Devin Funchess had an extra incentive to score a touchdown Monday night against Miami. The Carolina Panthers wide receiver made a special promise to the mother of a fallen soldier, a promise that went way beyond football.
“I told Dillon’s mom that I was going to get in the end zone for her,” Funchess said, per the Panthers team website. “That’s what I did. I made sure she got the first touchdown (ball).”
Devin Funchess promised Tina Palmer he’d score a touchdown for her son, Fallen Hero SGT Dillon Baldridge.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) November 15, 2017
Dillon is Sgt. Dillon Baldridge. The 22-year-old died in June during an attack in Afghanistan while serving in the Army, and Funchess wore his initials on his helmet during Carolina’s “Salute to Service” game.
“I’m two months older than (Dillon),” Funchess said. “He was a top-notch shooter. He was a sniper. His mom said he was the most joyful boy you’d ever meet. It was an honor meeting her. Just five months ago he passed away. It was an honor to get in the end zone for her.”
Funchess delivered on his promise in spades, scoring not one, but two touchdowns in the 45-21 win. His first came on a screen pass where he showcased his speed, evading defenders for a 28-yard scamper. He proceeded to direct a military salute to the crowd. His second score came on a gorgeous back shoulder throw by Cam Newton that went for 32 yards. For the game, he finished with five catches, 92 yards and the two touchdowns.
The emergence of Funchess as a No. 1 wideout — he has 43 catches for 535 yards and five touchdowns this season — is excellent news for a Panthers team that just traded Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo. At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Funchess — a second-round draft choice in 2014 out of Michigan — will continue to be heavily relied upon down the stretch.
The 7-3 Panthers appear on track toward making the playoffs after missing the postseason just last year. Carolina has a Week 11 bye before hosting the New York Jets in Week 12.
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