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Monday, December 9, 2013
Rivera: 'Maybe we got little full of ourselves'

By David Newton

CHARLOTTE -- Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera spent his typical Monday day-after-the-game news conference talking about something that hasn't been typical since an Oct. 6 game at Arizona.

A loss.

As coaches usually do, he was looking for a silver lining in the 31-13 spanking in New Orleans that snapped Carolina's franchise-best winning streak at eight straight games.

As coaches usually do, he predicted his team would bounce back.

"I expect them to respond very well," Rivera said. "As I told them last night, this is a very humbling experience. Maybe we need a little bit of that. Maybe we got a little full of ourselves and thought we were capable of just showing up.

"I'm not saying that's what we did, because there was some bright spots. We did some good things early."

But overall, there were way too many fundamental mistakes, the kind a potential playoff team shouldn't make at this point in the season.

"I thought we would know our opponent better," Rivera said. "I thought we would play better situational football, and we didn't. There were basic fundamental things that we messed up -- as we like to say, 'Football 101 mistakes.'

"Leverage. Being in the right coverage leverage position. Knowing where my help was coming from. Knowing who I'm blocking on specific plays. Knowing my route depth. What is my initial read? These are basic fundamentals we messed up."

Rivera and his staff will spend this week cleaning up those mistakes in preparation for Sunday's home game against the New York Jets, still in the wild card hunt in the AFC at 6-7 following a 37-27 victory over Oakland.

The Panthers are 9-4 with games remaining against the Jets, New Orleans and Atlanta, needing to likely win two of those to assure a playoff spot.

Players already had moved on from Sunday, focusing on New York and how to correct mistakes. While nobody went so far as to say the team had gotten full of itself, some admitted there were things they let slide because of the winning.

They were saying the kinds of things Rivera wanted to hear.

"One of the things I talked to the guys about was this was a humbling experience," Rivera said of his post-game speech. "And I told the guys, in all honesty, I have no magic words for you. The only thing we can truly do is get back on the practice field and work hard, do the things we're supposed to do and do them the right way.

"So when I was talking to the guys today, I heard that. It was humbling. We'll learn from that. I'm encouraged by that."