Ron Rivera calls out Panthers

Updated: September 16, 2013, 5:10 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera is tired of losing close games -- and he let his players know it during Monday's team meeting.

"It's time," Rivera told reporters Monday, less than 24 hours after a 24-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills. "It really is. It is time for playmakers to make plays when they've got opportunities.

"It's time to be in good position to where you close things out to where you don't have to worry about the last drive, the last second. That's what we talked about."

Buffalo drove 80 yards with no timeouts and scored the winning touchdown on a 2-yard pass from rookie quarterback EJ Manuel to a wide-open Stevie Johnson with two seconds left Sunday.

It was the 10th time since Rivera was named coach in 2011 that Carolina lost a game it led going into the fourth quarter. That is tied with Philadelphia for the league's worst mark during that stretch. San Diego, Tampa Bay, Detroit and Cleveland are tied for second with seven.

The loss was the 14th in 16 games for Rivera in contests decided by seven or fewer points. The result is a 13-21 overall record that has Rivera's future in question.

Rivera said he has had no conversations with team owner Jerry Richardson and that he is not concerned about his job security heading into a Week 3 game against the winless New York Giants.

Rivera You talk about how close you are and it's time to get over the hump. We've done this before. We've been through this, and that's the thing that is disheartening. You'd like to believe we've gotten to the point where we've learned from these things, and now it's about getting these things done.

-- Panthers coach Ron Rivera

"The biggest thing is we're going to talk about what happened and the Giants coming up," Rivera said.

And about making plays.

"You talk about how close you are and it's time to get over the hump," said Rivera, whose team started 1-6 a year ago. "We've done this before. We've been through this, and that's the thing that is disheartening.

"You'd like to believe we've gotten to the point where we've learned from these things, and now it's about getting these things done."

Carolina was 1-7 in games decided by seven points or less a year ago en route to finishing the season with a 7-9 record. The Panthers are 0-2 this season, losing 12-7 to Seattle in the opener at home and then losing at Buffalo by one.

"You come in and battle a team on the road, in their stadium, give yourselves an opportunity to win and you don't win," said Rivera, obviously frustrated. "You hold [down] a lot of people's pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl and you don't get it done.

"We talked about if you have somebody down, you have to keep them down."

Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith said Sunday that the team is headed in the right direction but "we have a few people that obviously are going in the wrong direction." He said some players simply aren't executing.

That happened to the defense several times on Buffalo's winning drive. Players were in coverages designed to keep the Bills inbounds but lost containment and allowed Buffalo to stop the clock.

On the game-winning touchdown, on what Buffalo calls a "rub rout," D.J. Moore called for a switch that cornerback Josh Norman says he didn't see or hear.

[+] EnlargeStevie Johnson
AP Photo/Bill WippertBuffalo's Stevie Johnson was wide open on his game-winning TD catch Sunday due to a miscommunication in Carolina's secondary.

Rivera didn't sound convinced.

"Apparently, Josh Norman didn't play it," Rivera said. "It's a critical situation. You get a communication. You see you have the switch and you fall off looking for the No. 2 receiver to run the No. 7 like he did. You'd like to believe when the call is made you execute the call and you're in position to make the play."

When told that Norman said he didn't hear the switch, Rivera said: "That's something we're going to get to the bottom of. That's something that most certainly will be discussed."

Rivera said it's time the team learns from its mistakes and corrects them instead of making repeating them.

"We've got the Giants coming in," he said. "They're 0-2 as well. They're as desperate as we are. And it really honestly doesn't matter. What does matter is the next thing that is important, and that's this game coming up. We understand we have to win this football game."

Rivera said he gave the players their options Monday.

"Their options are to get through this today, show up on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and then win on Sunday," he said. "Those are the options. Those are the only options there are.

"We're close. We're very close. We took one of the NFC favorites to the hilt, had a chance to win. Now it's time to get over the hump and start winning."

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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