A week after a surprise breakout to upset Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, P.J. Walker was on target as the Panthers quarterback yet again Sunday. And none of his passes were prettier than his last of regulation. Making a second straight start in place of Baker Mayfield, the former XFL signal-caller unloaded a perfect 62-yard bomb with 23 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The only issue? Star receiver D.J. Moore, who hauled in the highlight-reel score, also helped the opposing Falcons after the catch, drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that preceded a missed extra point, which would've given Carolina a last-second lead. Instead, the Panthers suffered a heartbreaking 37-34 overtime loss.
PJ WALKER JUST DID THAT. HAIL MARY TO DJ MOORE. pic.twitter.com/dDYwoZhaGG— NFL (@NFL) October 30, 2022
NFL rules prohibit a player from immediately removing their helmet in celebration after a play, but Moore did just that after reeling in Walker's pinpoint Hail Mary. So instead of trying the ensuing extra point from 33 yards out, Panthers kicker Eddy Pineiro was forced to attempt a 48-yarder; when his kick went wide left, regulation effectively ended in a 34-34 tie, sending the contest to overtime. Pineiro went on to miss a 33-yard field goal in OT, where the Falcons stole the victory.
Fair or not, the unsportsmanlike conduct rules -- and Moore's violation of them, coupled with Pineiro's miss -- wasted what Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes quickly deemed "the best throw of the year." Walker's TD pass, which came with the Panthers down 34-28 in a surprise battle for NFC South supremacy, also traveled 62 air yards -- the most on a TD since 2006, per ESPN.