Panthers' Ginn Jr. is relevant too

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. didn't hesitate when asked if the 25-yard touchdown catch on Monday night was the biggest play of his football career.

"Oh, yeah, for sure," the sixth-year player said of the reception with 59 seconds left that gave the Carolina Panthers a 24-20 victory over the New England Patriots. "Ranks No. 1."

And No. 2? That was in 2004.

"Michigan, my freshman year, that punt return," Ginn recalled of an 82-yard return that sparked Ohio State to a 37-21 upset of the seventh-ranked Wolverines.

Because high-profile quarterback Cam Newton threw Monday's game-winner and there was a controversial no-call in the end zone on New England's final play, Ginn's touchdown has been almost lost in the shuffle.

But the play wasn't lost on Ginn or his family, many whom were at Bank of America Stadium to witness it.

"This was very, very big in my life, in my family's life, just the way it made my parents feel walking out of here," Ginn said. "My father [Ted Ginn Sr.] as a coach . . . to only have his son make one catch and it be that, it means a lot."

Ginn played for his father in high school in Cleveland. He went on to Ohio State and became one of the best all-purpose players in the country, so good that the Miami Dolphins made him the ninth pick of the 2007 draft.

Since then, Ginn's biggest impact has been as a returner even though he thinks of himself as a receiver first. He caught only two passes last season for the San Francisco 49ers, and when he came to Carolina as a free agent it was basically as a return specialist.

But he's had a rebirth as a receiver at Carolina (7-3). His 24 catches are the most he's had since he had 38 in his third season at Miami, where the Panthers take their six-game winning streak on Sunday.

That's why making such a big-time play on a big-time stage was so big -- for him and the Panthers.

"Just like we always say we're relevant, I'm relevant," Ginn said. "I'm relevant."

Yes he is.