Some players, like linebacker
Head coach Ron Rivera understands the sentiment, but doesn’t agree.
"I think that is extreme," Rivera said. "15-1 got us to where we are. 15-1 allowed us to have homefield throughout. We’ve got a ticket. The ticket says you’re in. What you do from that point, that’s up to you. That’s the most important thing.
"You earn the right to be here, now you have to stay here. To me, you can’t disparage what you did during the regular season. You accomplished something. But you have to go forward, and to me, it’s what you do now."
The Panthers’ focus is entirely on the now – an NFC Divisional Playoff against Seattle – which requires undivided attention.
Rivera was asked about the immense pressure on his team entering Sunday’s game. He went on to explain the importance of preparation to alleviate pressure.
"When I speak to grade-school kids I ask, ‘How many of you guys feel pressure when you don’t study well and do the assignments like you’re supposed to before the test?’ They all raise their hand. You need to study and do your homework – that’s the truth of the matter," Rivera said.
"If you feel like you’ve done everything you can possibly do before you show up and play that game, there is no pressure. You might have butterflies, but you shouldn’t feel pressure. You should feel confident and ready to roll. That’s what we’re trying to get across to our guys."
The message has been received.
"He said it right," tight end
The Panthers embrace the emotional aspects of the game. All season they’ve exhibited a youthful enthusiasm that became contagious. It’s who they are, and it’s who they must continue to be.
"Don’t forget what got you there. It’s easy for somebody to say, ‘Well, you had fun during the season but now it’s the playoffs so tighten up.’ That’s not us, you know?" guard
Carolina’s personality hasn’t been hiding this week. Locker room dance parties attest to that. Rivera feels confident about the way his team has handled itself since the regular season concluded and he feels lessons have been learned from previous playoff encounters.
"I think they’re in a good place," Rivera said. "They’ve kept their personality, they’ve kept their energy level high."
And at this point, they’re just ready for another opportunity to play.
"We feel great. We feel like we had a solid week of practice and a solid week of preparation," fullback