Game Quotes: Panthers at Buccaneers

HEAD COACH RON RIVERA

On the decision to go for two: "We didn't come to do anything but win. I'm real proud of the way they fought to the very bitter [end]. I thought the guys did things that gave themselves a chance to win the game. I thought we did some really good things. We missed some opportunities, some tremendous opportunities. I thought Cam Newton was about as courageous as it gets. He didn't want to come out and he tried to make some throws we thought he shouldn't have, but that's him. He's a competitive man and he wanted to win."

On if Cam Newton's aggravated his shoulder injury: "Yes he did. He's playing hard, he's playing to win, but he was not going to stop. I'm proud of the effort he gave."

On if injury will be a problem: "No. Somebody reported the MRI was negative, and that's the best thing."

On if injury affects his performance: "He doesn't use it as a crutch so if he doesn't, I'm not going to."

On if he tried to talk Newton into coming out of the game: "Yes, we did. He wanted to compete. I just told him, 'hey look, we have to call certain plays, we want to call certain plays.' He wanted to stay in, battle through it, and try to make those plays. That's who he is. He's a courageous football player and young man."

On Graham Gano's performance: "Well, a little disappointed. We had some opportunities to put some points on the board and we didn't do it. At the end of the day, we all have jobs to do and we have to do our job."

On the effect of making big plays and having takeaways: "Yeah, I thought our young guys on defense competed very, very well, did some really good things, and made some plays. I'm very proud of what they did. I'm very proud of what we did on special teams. We had a couple big returns, blocked kick, and set up some stuff. Those guys competed."

On finishing the season 6-10: "Not much to reflect on. We're going to take a long hard look at it, study what we do, and as I said before, we're going to evolve. I'm not going to get into that. I'll meet with you guys tomorrow and talk even more in depth after I get a chance to digest everything, look at some notes, make some notes, and go forward."

On if new plays were implemented today: "There were some things that we did talk about that we did throw into the mix. Some of it was successful and some of it wasn't. At the end of the day, it's tough to throw a whole bunch of new stuff in in such a short period of time, but some of the things that we threw in we were actually pretty excited about. Those will be the things that we'll talk about as we go forward."

On Newton's argument to stay in the game: "That he'll make plays. You saw it on that last drive. He did some things with that one throw to Kelvin Benjamin across the middle. That's the connection that we've been looking for. Kelvin really seems to have turned and is back to form. It's one of those things where it took time for him to get healthy and 100 percent and he went out there and did some good things for us. I thought Stew Jonathan Stewart ran hard. The offensive line battled. You got to give credit to what Mike Smith and the defense over there at Tampa Bay did. They gave us a bunch of different looks, some new looks, and they blitzed well. Credit to Coach Smith, he's an aggressive defensive coordinator."

On if Newton's injury was a factor in the decision to go for two: "No. We were going for it. We didn't come here to tie and see what happens. We came here to win the football game. With 17 seconds left, I thought we had a good opportunity. Unfortunately, Greg Olsen slipped coming out of the break. As you saw the ball was on the money and unfortunately he slipped."

On if the kicker position will be evaluated: "We're going to compete at all positions. We will certainly compete at all positions."

On major takeaway from this season: "I don't want to get into that because then I'll get into the rest of it. Like I said, I'll wait until tomorrow to really get into it."

On performance by young defensive players: "David Mayo got an opportunity to get on the football field and make some things happen. The  two young corners continue to compete. Larry Webster got an opportunity. I'm really excited about that. Wes Horton continues to be steady. I thought Vern Vernon Butler did a nice job. The young guys – it bodes well for who we are. Tyler Larsen battled at center for us. Daryl Williams continues to grow as a run blocker, a mauler, he's getting better and better as a pass protector. Damiere Byrd getting his opportunity. Brenton Bersin competing. That's what you want to see in a time like this without the wholesale change. To see that they did something, got an opportunity to compete, and they took advantage of it, I'm pleased with that."

On crowd and player's reaction Davis' low hit: "Well first of all, I think that's bush league to show that play up on the screen. What are we trying to incite it? Just don't do that. That's got no place in the NFL as far as I'm concerned. [Thomas Davis] did something that the guy scrambles around and we saw Jameis Winston break through so at that point you can eliminate receivers. I wish it didn't happen but that's part of the game. I really do mean that. I don't think you put that type of play up on the screen. I don't think that's right."

On when Newton aggravated his shoulder: "It's aggravated. He's been trying to gut through it, fight through it, and it's sore. Every time he throws a ball it creates trauma. It's just the muscle being sore and all that stuff. As he said, the sabbatical is what's going to help him."

On how tough it is to remain patient during 6-10 season: "I'm very patient just because of the way they competed and fought. It would have been really easy to make some decisions if we had got smashed or smoked 31-0, but these guys competed and they tried to win at the very end. I'm proud of that fact, that they didn't mail it in. They showed up, had a good week of practice, you guys saw that, and then they came and competed. That's all I can ask from football players is that they go out and compete."

On if he planned to play Newton the whole game: "No. There was a point where we talked about putting Joe Webb in. We really did. [Newton] wanted to compete and he wanted to win the football game. I'm not going to take that away from him. Especially who he is."

QB CAM NEWTON

On his decision to play despite his shoulder injury: "They asked me if could I go. I said I could and that was the end of it."

On whether he believes that the shoulder injury affected plays during the game: "It did, but, this whole season, as the leader of the team, I just wanted to show that I'm willing to leave it all out on the field. Even though we were not playing for [anything], it wasn't about that. I take pride in putting a good product out there. Today wasn't good enough, but at the end of the day, I can say I gave it my all."

On how he believes he played individually: "[It doesn't] matter how I played, we still lost. I didn't play well enough for us to win."

On what he believes he will need to do to heal his shoulder: "Rest, a lot of rest. For me, I think me and football have a love-hate relationship and we're not on good terms right now. I'm just going to leave her alone for a while and just try to be as regular as possible right now."

On what the offseason holds: "Nathaniel, nothing. Just trying to teach [Newton's son] Chosen the three-step dropback and getting him prepared to be a big brother."

On what the offense needs to do to evolve: "I don't know. I don't know what evolve means."

On offense finding ways to protect him better moving forward: "Well, we just [have] to get to winning football games, so if that's what it's going to take, then I'm for it. Obviously, I don't believe that that's the case. Everybody wants to point the finger, but I didn't play good football today. A lot of people didn't play good football today. That's the main focus. A lot of guys want to get away from the game and we're going to do that. We just have to focus on putting a better product on the field next year."

On how he would sum up the season: "It [doesn't] matter."

On two-point conversion attempt: "They brought pressure and I was just trying to be on time. I'm just trying to put it in guys' hands that are familiar in that kind of moment and as well as where the read takes me. They brought pressure and that was my hot read."

On not having as many zone read plays this season compared to the past: "I don't know. I stay in my lane. I try to be the best quarterback possible and try to put this team in the best situation. As far as play calling. I don't try to, I don't think it has been an issue. It's just about us as a team trying to execute and that's what we didn't do."

On what went wrong on the pick-six: "Just great play by him [Tampa cornerback Brent Grimes]."

On what he can take away from this season: "I really can't because of it being right after a game. I can't really pinpoint it, but I just want to get away to really reevaluate football in the sense that we [have to] be better. I [have to] be better. It's not we, I say me. Putting the challenge on myself that's going to have me dominate this league."

On whether he believes that football is not as much fun as it used to be for him: "It's losing. We all play this game for one reason and one reason only. That's what it all comes down to. It's never fun losing. So, that's the fun in itself. As professionals, we have an image to uphold and things of that sort, so for us, we just have to focus on being a better personal, whatever it is. I know I have to be better."

On how long it will take for him to love football again in his "love-hate relationship" he has with the sport right now: "Next year. I can't do anything about it now, you know what I'm saying? I can't do anything about it now. So, for me I'm just taking it all in stride. That was a joke by the way. I don't want see on the Charlotte Observer, 'Cam loves, now he hates football. He may not come back next year.' I don't want to see that. Listen, I just want to get away from football just like every person by default. We're not going to the playoffs, so we just have to make the most of our opportunity right now. Like I say, I am just going to get 100 percent and miss it again."

On whether he believes all of the hard hits he took this year clouded the season: "It didn't. I have to get better."

DE MARIO ADDISON

On the defense coming together as a unit: "Trust, I see trust. Every guy that plays on our side knows that they're going to get the job done. That guy is going to give his all. We trust each other. It's a brotherhood. You know what I mean? It's a brotherhood, it's a family."

On if this game sums up Carolina's season: "We hear it man. Everybody is going to make mistakes. I made a few mistakes today. It's a game, you're going to make mistakes."

On what is ahead for Carolina: "We're going to start in training camp and get it all back over again."

On what he learned this season: "This season, I know one thing man, when we play together, we're hell to play with. When we start slow, it's hard to pick it up at times. We just have to trust each other. When we trust each other, we're going to play [well]."

On what he can take away from this season for himself: "I think I had an okay season. This season, I made more plays. I had more opportunities and showed them that I can get the job done when my number is called. So, I just want to thank the organization for giving me a chance to show them what I am about."

LB THOMAS DAVIS

On initial thoughts of game: "Kind of like all season long, we just didn't play well enough to win. At the end of the day, they ended up making more plays than us. They came away with one more point than we did."

On any frustration with offensive consistency with defense success: "We have a job and as a defense it's our goal to focus on what we can control. We go out there, we play hard, and we compete hard. We can't allow teams to have anything. That's our mindset. That's what we take away from games. We gave up a drive in the fourth quarter once again that allowed [Tampa Bay] to go down and take the lead and ultimately win the game. We have to do a much better job of playing a complete game as a defense."

On takeaways from this season: "The biggest takeaway from this season is we have to do a better job of executing in the fourth quarter. That's essentially what our season has come down to. If we make a few plays here and there in the fourth quarter we have much different season. In this offseason, that's going to be one of the things that, for me personally, I'll look at. How can I be better in the fourth quarter executing the game plan? That's just really the mindset for me right now."

On the improvement from young players: "Tremendous improvement, tremendous growth. Just to see where those guys started the season at to where they are now, I'm very excited about the future. Definitely looking forward to getting back out there competing with these guys this spring, in the summer and just making another run at next year."

On if he thought the season would turn out how it did five months ago: "I wouldn't have believed it. But at the end of the day, we are what our record says we are. I can tell you without a doubt that we have to be better, and we will get better. I understand the character of the men on this team. I know we're going to come back this offseason. We got to compete, we're going to work our butts off and we're going to get this ship fixed."

On hard hit against Russell Shepard: "On that play, I'm looking at the quarter back and I'm looking at him looking at this receiver that's crossing. Jameis [Jameis Winston] if you watch him on film, he does an excellent job of eluding tacklers and coming out of things. I saw we had him, but he had done it earlier in the game, come up out of there to make the throw. My job was to go back and connect to the receiver. It wasn't even a hard hit, a malicious hit. It wasn't helmet to helmet. I got underneath his pads and I talked to him after the game, we talked it out and he understood what I saw. He saw kind of the same thing that I saw. He saw the quarterback look at him. At the end of the day it wasn't a dirty play. Obviously the fans reacted to it, Mike [Evans] reacted to it, but at the end of the day its football."

WR TED GINN, JR.

On quarterback Cam Newton making more plays with his arm than feet: "I just think as we go along in this deal, as Cam gets a little bit older and you start putting the playmakers around him, it gives him a chance to sit back and create things with his arm more than his feet. Down the line, if you ever have to get out of things, you know he still has that. The style of game is different – pick it up and throw it quick or throw it to the right person at the right time. I think he is transferring over to that."

On if he was surprised with Tampa Bay cornerback Brent Grimes returning an interception for a touchdown: "No. I just think great players make great plays at great times. I made the right route. Cam [Newton] delivered the ball and that guy gets paid on the other end too. He watched film, he's been a Pro Bowler in this league for many, many years. So, you can never take anything away from that guy. He's been a top guy in this league for many, many years. With the type of quickness that he has and the way he dissects plays, we kind of gave [him] one.

DE WES HORTON

On his focus in the offseason: "Every offseason is a chance to grow – to get in the weight room, hit the weights, get your speed up, get the mental aspect of things for when you get back to OTAs. Just really being locked in on what's being coached and just absorbing as much as possible."

On the play where he stripped the ball: "Yeah, the first thing was defeating the guy that I was on. I gave him a little bite inside, then came back outside and just ran all the way around. Just watching [Tampa Bay quarterback] Jameis [Winston] on tape; I've seen him try to extend plays, holding the ball, holding the ball. I knew I wasn't that far out of the play. I just saw him out of the [corner of my eye] downhill. I just tried to run downhill as fast as possible and hopefully he didn't throw it and he didn't, so it worked out well."

On if making the strip meant more because he made it on a player like Winston: "Definitely, just because you see him dodging guys left and right. When guys beat their guy, that's half the battle, you have to take him down. It is nice to take down a good, mobile quarterback like him and take it a step further and get the ball out."

DT KAWANN SHORT

On fighting to the very end: "Definitely, definitely we don't quit. At the same time, we still need to find ways to [win] all those close games. We're going to take the offseason and do what we need to do and work twice as hard."

On if how losing last game is motivating for next season: "Definitely, it humbled us real fast this season. We got to come back this offseason and just work and have that work ethic that we want to be the best. If everybody have that work ethic things will turn around."

View game action photos from Carolina's 17-16 loss to Tampa Bay.

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