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Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Rivera made the right call on fourth down

By David Newton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Before we move on to the Carolina Panthers' game against the New York Giants, let's take one last look at Sunday's 24-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Specifically, let's look at the decision to kick a field goal on fourth-and-1 from the Bills' 21-yard line and the Panthers clinging to a 20-17 lead with 1:42 remaining.

Many have suggested that Carolina should have taken the "Tin Cup'' approach and gone for it. That may work in the movies where a hole-out on the 12th shot into a par 5 on the final hole of the U.S. Open makes Kevin Costner, otherwise known as Roy "Tin Cup'' McAvoy, look like a hero even though it cost him the tournament.

No guts, no glory.

If you don't believe in yourself, then who else will?

Carolina's Ron Rivera
Ron Rivera chose to kick a field goal with his team up 20-17 late in the fourth quarter. They lost 24-23.
Or in the immortal words of Rene Russo, aka Molly: "Five years from now nobody will remember who won or lost, but they're gonna remember your 12!''

Yes, had Carolina gotten the first down coach Ron Rivera would be applauded for making a gutsy call.

Buffalo was out of timeouts and the Panthers could have run the clock out. Quarterback EJ Manuel never would have had a chance to go 80 yards for the winning score, a 2-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left.

But in the real world, Rivera made the right call. He put the game in the hands of his defense, which despite an injury-depleted secondary, should have been able to keep a rookie quarterback playing in his second NFL game from driving the length of the field.

It didn't happy because players lost containment and let receivers get out of bounds to stop the clock. It didn't happen because officials ruled a pass to running back Fred Jackson incomplete instead of a catch and fumble, which would have cost the Bills precious seconds to line up and get off another play after Jackson recovered.

It didn't happen because Manuel avoided a sack by Greg Hardy and completed a pass to running back C.J. Spiller, who got out of bounds. It didn't happen because officials called pass interference on middle linebacker Luke Kuechly to negate an interception.

It didn't happen because cornerback Josh Norman missed a call to switch, leaving wide receiver Stevie Johnson wide open for the touchdown.

It was the perfect storm of events.

Most coaches would have done the same thing Rivera did. But when you're coming off consecutive losing seasons and facing an 0-2 start people like to second guess. They want you to take chances.

Here's the deal. Had Rivera gone for it and failed he would have been second guessed as well.

The argument for going for it is understandable. You have a 6-foot-5, 250-pound quarterback who should be able to pick up a yard just by falling forward. Even Cam Newton says had they gone for it, "I have no doubt in my mind that we would have gotten it.''

But that's not his call. It's not the fan's call.

It's Rivera's call, and he made the right decision.