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Eddy Piñeiro after two late misses: "It hurts"

Eddy Pineiro

ATLANTA – As Eddy Piñeiro fielded questions from a swarm of reporters in the visitors' locker room, four teammates lingered behind the wall of cameras and recorders.

Derrick Brown, Johnny Hekker, JJ Jansen, and Baker Mayfield focused their eyes on the Panthers kicker as he answered questions about a pair of potentially game-winning kicks that went wide left in Sunday's 37-34 overtime loss to the Falcons.

"It hurts," Piñeiro said in his postgame interview. "I love this team, and I know they've got my back. I know this is not going to define me as a kicker, and everybody misses kicks. Unfortunately, mine was today, and my time was today. (I'm) going to bounce back and be ready to kick."

When the scrum dispersed and Piñeiro returned to his locker, Mayfield made a beeline to talk with him while he packed up for the short flight back to Charlotte.

Piñeiro had just made two expensive mistakes.

First, he failed to make an extra point after a miraculous 62-yard touchdown pass from PJ Walker to DJ Moore with just 12 seconds left. An NFL extra point would typically be taken from the 15-yard line, making it a 33-yard attempt. But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Moore, who removed his helmet in celebration, pushed the kick back 15 yards.

Piñeiro missed the 48-yard attempt to send a 34-all game to overtime.

"We went back through the cues of what we do, and we liked the line, all the things, and everyone felt pretty good about what had happened," Jansen said. "48 yards, leaked a little bit left. I don't want to put words in his mouth, but he thought he'd hit the ball pretty well. So you don't try to make too many adjustments off those sorts of things."

In the extra period, CJ Henderson intercepted Atlanta quarterback Marcus Mariota and returned the pick 54 yards to the Falcons' 20-yard line. But moments later, Piñeiro sailed his 32-yard field goal attempt wide left.

"I just came across it," Piñeiro said. "My hips came across it and I should have kept my hips forward."

Eddy Piñeiro

On the Falcons' ensuing drive, Mariota had a 30 yard-scramble to help bring them to the Carolina 23. That's when Atlanta kicker Younghoe Koo made his 41-yard kick, handing the Panthers a heartbreaking loss.

Afterward, interim head coach Steve Wilks said he was "not inclined to elaborate" on whether he would look into bringing in another kicker following Piñeiro's misses.

"It didn't come down to that," Wilks said. "Of course, it would have given us the opportunity to win, but offensively, defensively, and in special teams, we could have had it way before then.

"With me, I'm encouraging him and trying to build him up. I told him, 'Hopefully, we'll give you an opportunity to come back and win it for us,' which, unfortunately, we didn't."

Piñeiro said he took accountability after the game, telling the team it was "on him."

But his teammates, especially the four who watched him speak with the media, hope the focus doesn't lean too much toward the kicker.

"We care about each other a lot," Hekker said. "Any time something like that happens, there can be a tendency for the media to kind of jump on a guy and try to get their moment to get some more clicks or traffic. But you just saw guys that care about Eddy, care about this team, care about keeping the guy that's going to be our kicker the rest of the season positive and moving in the right direction."

Since replacing an injured Zane Gonzalez in the preseason, Piñeiro had made all 12 of his extra points and 14 of his 15 field goal attempts. Until Sunday's final two attempts.

"It sucks (to) try to put it on Eddy when all of us had a hand in this," Brown said. "That's how it goes, but this doesn't fall on him. …

"Dude has made 100 kicks. He missed two, and everybody wants to go haywire. But in this situation, we're still together. We're going to get back to work tomorrow."

View best in-game photos from Carolina's Week 8 game against the Atlanta Falcons.

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