David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer 15d

Panthers marvel at Kurt Coleman consoling Julio Jones after drop

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones had just dropped a perfectly thrown pass in the end zone that would have cut the Falcons' deficit to three in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.

It was one of those you've-got-to-be-kidding moments in sports that makes the highlight reel for all the wrong reasons.

It was one of those moments where Jones probably needed comforting by his teammates.

But the first person to comfort arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL today was Carolina's Kurt Coleman.

The free safety ran to meet Jones as he headed back from one of the most embarrassing moments of his career, put his arm around the four-time Pro Bowl selection and told him, "Glory to God."

"No one felt worse than he did," Coleman said on Wednesday. "Let's not get these wrong. I'm not going to apologize for him dropping the ball. I'm not elated that he did not catch the ball.

"It was just a player respecting how great a player he is. ... In a society where we often criticize others or chastise other people for making mistakes, we forget that we often make our own."

The drop helped the Panthers (6-3) beat the defending NFC champions 20-17 and remain half a game behind New Orleans (6-2) in the NFC South heading into Monday night's game against Miami.

It was the first time since 2012 that Jones, who had 300 yards on 12 catches in a win over the Panthers a year ago, had dropped a potential touchdown in the end zone.

But as unusual as the drop was, Coleman running over and putting his arm around Jones was just as unusual.

Carolina nickel back Captain Munnerlyn could think of only one player in the league that would have done that.

"Kurt Coleman," he said. "You've got to know what type of person he is. He's a spiritual guy. I'm a spiritual guy, too, but I don't think I would have done that at that point in time."

Strong safety Mike Adams, the player who bit on the play and left Jones wide open, knows he wouldn't have consoled Jones or any player at that point.

"If he had caught it, he wouldn't have [said], ‘Praise be to God me!" Adams said.

Adams actually was stunned to hear Coleman consoled Jones.

"He what?" he said with a smile, adding there was a lot of trash talking going on between both sides before that play. "We've got to have a talk. Me and Kurt have got to have a talk."

The drop was big. On its next possession, Atlanta scored a touchdown to cut the deficit to three, but it couldn't score again on its final possession.

But with all that was riding on the outcome, Coleman never hesitated to run over to Jones, put his arm around him and offer words of encouragement.

"Nothing made me do it," Coleman said. "We've all been in position where things haven't gone our way. I offered encouragement. I told him, ‘Glory to God.' I told him after the game he's a great receiver, I respect him, I respect his game, he makes me play hard."

Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks said what Coleman did "epitomizes him as a person."

"I'm sure what we've all seen, guys go up to them, but they don't really console them," Wilks said.

Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly agreed.

"I didn't know what he said. I was just happy he didn't catch the ball," Kuechly said of Jones. "Kurt is an intense guy, plays really hard, but at the end of the day he's a really good person."

Backup safety Colin Jones said the Panthers are "blessed to have Kurt on our team."

"Kurt is just a strong person of faith and just a strong leader and a great person in general on and off the field," he said. "A lot of us strive to be the example he sets."

"I wouldn't even think to do what he did. The selflessness comes shining through."

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