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Rivera's 'Little Giants' obsession leads to Panthers glory

Panthers coach Ron Rivera told reporters Monday that the hidden-ball trick his team employed to score a 7-yard touchdown against the Texans wasn't an in-house creation, whipped up on a napkin over beers, but the brainchild of Hollywood.

Namely, the 1994 epic "Little Giants," which follows the ups and downs of a youth football team battling great odds in the process of capturing hearts.

In the film, when Tiny Blue finds itself in a tight spot against a smaller (but equally over-hyped) Cowboys team, the coach (played by Rick Moranis) turns to his assistant, Nubie, a young, bespectacled mathematician who runs data on a sideline computer to dial up a play titled "The Annexation of Puerto Rico."

Rivera said he watched the film "100 times" with his children, Christopher and Courtney, according to CBS, and Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski was hip to running the play Sunday with Cam Newton, Richie Brockel and friends against a caught-off-guard Texans defense.

"Cam's ability to run and throw, it just adds another dimension," Rivera told The Associated Press. "It has been kind of neat to see the different things we've been able to do with him over the course of the season and show he's an integral part of what we are and what we're going to become."

For fans of one of the NFL's more conservative offenses, it's slightly maddening to see Carolina dial up the esoteric wanderings of a Pop Warner playbook.

For Panthers fans, however, after suffering through last year's dead-on-arrival attack, it's a long time coming.

(Note: Here's the film clip from "Little Giants." Click to the 6:00-minute mark to watch the young ones unleash "The Annexation of Puerto Rico" to great success.)

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