Game Quotes: Panthers at Raiders

HEAD COACH RON RIVERA

Can you evaluate QB Cam Newton's performance today? "Well I'm not going to evaluate until I get an opportunity to watch the tape, but I do think he did some good things. He gave us a chance to win the football game at the end of the day. He did some really good things, but again we as a football team have got to play better in that first half."

What do you think of the effort of your guys in the second half today? "Well it's a grand effort. Again, let's be honest, we didn't play very well in the first half. We missed a couple opportunities in the first half. We missed that chance, but in the second half we came out and we gave ourselves every opportunity and that's all you can ask for is the guys come out and play like that. They believed they had a chance to win and it's unfortunate. We just didn't pull it out at the end."

Did the offensive line hold everything together? "Yeah I mean it was tough. [Running game coordinator] Coach [John] Matsko and [Offensive Line Coach] Coach Ray [Brown] are doing a heck of a job trying to piecemeal a group of guys to go out and fight for us and that's what they did. They came out and gave us their best effort. They gave us some opportunities. With the piecemeal line to be able to do what we did and be that close to winning a football game against a very good Raiders team, again that's a credit to the players for fighting and the coaches for doing the best they can with those guys."

What was the thought process behind going for two a couple times? "Well the first time obviously was to make up for the blocked kick and then it puts you behind now you're chasing points, which is unfortunate. In retrospect, you could say oh well let's just go with it and keep trying to kick them but again as I said we started chasing points and we were trying to make that up."

Thomas Davis put you in a position to score and that led to a touchdown. How important was that? "That's huge. Again, we came out in the second half I think the guys were able to get past the slow start and that's the unfortunate part. We didn't start fast. We missed some opportunities. We turned the ball over at the wrong time obviously, but again coming out and playing in the second half you do that you give yourself a chance to win. That's the thing I really appreciate about our guys. They fought and they weren't backing down."

Right before the pick six you were playing without any pace. Were you content for running it down? "Yeah we were looking to pop something, but at the same time we didn't want to give them an opportunity to get the ball back. We had a screen pass call and Khalil Mack, credit to him, made a heck of a play because from what we saw it looked we had a little bit of running room there. You get that to Fozzy [Whittaker] and with his ability to run in open space who knows what happens and unfortunately Khalil Mack read it and made a hell of a play."

Were you tempted to go for it on 4th-and-1? "Yes very much so, but again with five minutes in that type of situation I decided not to. I thought again we could get a good punt, get them down there, we still had three timeouts and that's what I was working with."

Did it seem in the first half that you weren't playing with a ton of urgency? "No I wouldn't say that. I'd just say that we didn't make plays. They made plays and we didn't. That's probably the biggest reason more than anything else. I thought our guys were trying just we didn't get anything done. I thought in the second half we came out we made a couple plays very early and gained some momentum. This game is a funny game when you pick up momentum and it gets things rolling, things kind of snowball and you create some positive energy for yourselves. Unfortunately, they made a couple plays that kind of stymied it and we were into a dogfight."

Why was Kelvin Benjamin so upset when he threw his helmet? "Kelvin didn't want to come out and again you were a little concerned about his shoulder. They wanted to get him out right there and make sure he's alright and he wanted to keep trying to push himself through it and in fact it's funny, Kelvin and I just talked about that before I came out here and I told him, 'Hey, I appreciate you being passionate. You just got to learn to control it.' But he really didn't. He didn't want to come out. He wanted to get back out there and try and make a play for his team."

How do you sum up the frustration of suffering close losses? "It's been very frustrating. I mean, the health of this football team is very frustrating. The missed opportunities are very frustrating. Now it's five games where you've lost virtually in the last few minutes. It's disappointing, but that's the nature of this game. Sometimes you win them, sometimes you don't. We had an opportunity to win the very first one this year. We didn't, so that's tough, but that's the nature of it, as I said. We'll just keep fighting, keep playing. Now we still have an opportunity. We'll see what happens. There's no reason for us to look any other way but there's a glimmer of hope. That's all you need sometimes."

QB CAM NEWTON

What happened in the first half? "We've just got to find ways. You play a game like this…for most of this year we have to come together and win these close games. That's what it comes down to. The first half wasn't great, we battled back, took the lead – we just have to do better as a whole. It started with myself, that's just unacceptable. For the first half, I don't know what it was… I just couldn't get in a rhythm. Making a lackluster turnover late at the end in the first half didn't make it easy for us either. Needless to say, we've still got to watch the film and come back and be better."

What was the message at halftime? "Just keep playing. I've been playing this game long enough to know that the tables will turn sooner or later. They did. We've just got to find a way to keep the table in our favor. Oakland is a great team. Hostile environment. This is why you come to the league…to play these type of games. Unfortunately, we got the short end of the stick, but it was fun. Like I said, you just have to find a way to win close games."

Looking back, were the two two-point conversions the right choice? "You can't really dwell on that. You still have to play the game. With how this game was going, with so many momentum swings, we took their best shot and they took our best shot. We knew it was going to come down to that type of finish, but that's just what happens.

Why can't this team sustain momentum in the fourth quarter? "I really don't know. You don't really know until you know. It's a cliché saying, but… for us, I don't think we were passive. We just have to find ways to have more methodical drives to lead to points, as well as keep getting first downs. [The] Third quarter was dominant for us, we just have to keep that same mentality and get ready for the next game."

Did you say anything to Greg Olsen? "You don't say [anything] to Greg. Greg is a pro's pro. He comes to work every single day and when the game is on the line, I think we all know who I'm going to go to. I've got numerous receivers that I feel very confident about… [Corey] Brown, Ted [Ginn] had an unbelievable day today, Devin [Funchess] and obviously [Kelvin Benjamin]. It really comes down to the confidence within ourselves, and we have that. As far as Greg, I do know you'll have games like this where the simple stuff you don't usually do. I know this is just one of those games and he'll be prepared next game."

LB A.J. KLEIN

How did it feel out there today? "It felt good. I know I definitely left some plays out there today: the deep ball versus [Michael] Crabtree and then giving up that touchdown. Those are plays that I wish we had back. But, I mean, that is how football is—you win some, you lose some. I know I just have to continue on my work, on my techniques, and get back out there. I know those plays were big plays in the game, and probably were a deciding factor. I take full responsibility for that."

On a positive note, you guys rallied in the third quarter and took the lead to make this a game: "Yeah, we did rally. We had a great second half. We just started a little slow, unfortunately. But [Ron] Rivera has always had the "next man up" mentality. Some guys in the offense played positions that they weren't used to playing, so it just goes to show a lot about our team. We are going to keep fighting. Unfortunately, I wish we could have come out with this win today."

It seemed like after that first long drive, you guys found something defensively, and created some turnovers: "Yeah, I feel like we had the good scheme. Coach put in the right calls, and everyone was doing their jobs. Then we were getting quick three and outs and turnovers. We just needed another stop, or another turnover, late in the game. And unfortunately we didn't get that."

What did you see on that Crabtree play?  Were you looking for something else in terms of coverage? "No, I was just running high. That was my responsibility, to run high. I knew the ball was in the air when I heard the crowd, and I turned too early. But just got a little feet tangled up, a little physicality at the top of the route, and didn't get my head around in time. I tried to make a play on the ball, but that just goes down to technique. I have to be better."

With all these guys getting injured today, how important is this preparation going to be for Seattle? "It's going to be really big. It's probably a positive thing that we aren't traveling back to the east coast -- give us some extra time. Might have to travel back to the hotel tonight to kind of lay down, rest a little bit in these next few days and get back to preparing for Seattle."

WR TED GINN JR.

What are your thoughts going forward? "We just have to keep fighting towards our goals. As long as we just keep doing the things that we did in the second half, we should be fine."

Do you feel like you guys are starting to run out of time at all? "No, we just have to keep believing. As long as we keep believing, keep playing this game. They say any given Sunday. That's all you can worry about."

Olsen was really hard on himself for dropping the two-point conversion, and having a chance to make a play at the end: "There's only two words you can say, he's a pro. When you're a pro and you know what you did wrong, nobody can tell you how to correct it but yourself."

Does that kind of sum up the season for you guys?  Guys who normally make plays, not making them? "I mean, you know, we lost a lot of stuff in the beginning, but we make up for it in the end. Or vice versa, we make it up in the beginning and we lose it in the end. But you have to just come together and play a complete game."

Are these the type of games that you guys were figuring out how to win last year? "Yeah, it's like they used to say back in the day; when you get punched, they come up punching even more.  And so that's all we're doing, man.  We just have to learn how to put our back against the wall and start punching out of the crowds.  That's all we can do."

TE GREG OLSEN

What were the issues, if anything, in the first half? "We struggled, obviously, in the first half other than the one drive where 'Stew' [Jonathan Stewart] broke the run. We just couldn't really get any rhythm. We weren't getting open, weren't blocking. It is kind of a combination of things. We kind found our groove there in the second half. Obviously, the defense sparked us with those two turnovers, and obviously just came up short there in the end."

This thing seems to happen a lot this season, those tough losses and not being able to finish a game. What do you think is going wrong this season compared to other seasons where you were able to finish games? "Obviously, chasing those points, that kind of [expletive] us on the two-point conversion. That really ended up being the difference. We would have been up 10. They score. Then, we are up three, and they go down and kick the field goal for a tie as opposed to kicking the field goal to take the lead, so obviously that was big. We ended up trying and came up short with those extra points really came back to hurt us. Then, we had a chance to make up for it, and I just dropped it."

Do you feel that you should have had that one? "Yeah, I just went up and tried to get it. I couldn't quite open up the hands there high enough, and kind of let off the end of my fingernail. I would like to have that one back. It is usually a play that I make. I just couldn't quite get my left hand on the ball. I couldn't quite get enough of the ball with my other hand to hold it. It's a tough one obviously."

The conversion play, same type of deal? "That one I just dropped. The third down play there at the end would have been a good catch. I didn't quite get up there enough to catch it clean, and the two point play, I just dropped it. It ended up in essence costing us the game."

Have you felt like these are the kinds of games that you guys found out a way to win last year? "I think everyone is tired of comparing everything to last year. Last year is over. We have been saying that since the beginning of the year. We are done comparing everything to last year. The reality is that we are 4-7. It is a tough loss. Obviously, there are a lot of things that we could have done better to give ourselves a better chance. That is this game. It is not for the faint of heart, and you have got to make the plays starting with me."

Do you think playoff hopes and aspirations are over? "We are just trying to win a game. We will let all of that sort itself out."

OL TYLER LARSEN

You guys had some injuries today. How did you guys move forward? "We feel like everyone is a starter in this room. You know, you just have to go out and have that confidence and mentality each and every game. I mean, you hold yourself accountable because you are fighting for each and every one of your brothers that are inside that room. It's been a cool journey, and a cool experience today."

What does it mean to you to be called upon today? "It means a lot. I mean, I love this game. I've been playing it since I was eight years old. I love this team. I love being a part of this organization, and the fact that I got to go out there and make an impact with the team, it was a great experience, and it means a lot."

How will you approach this week now? "Just like every other week. I mean, we just have to watch film, see tendencies and everything like that and stay on point. Like I said, everyone has the starter mentality, so you don't really change anything."

LB SHAQ THOMPSON

What was the difference in how the team played in the second half compared to the first half? "Everyone just had to man up and check themselves. That is what we did in the second half. We came out and played our way of football. Obviously, we have to do that in the first half.

When Thomas Davis made some big plays, and put the offense in a good position, the offense responded by scoring instead of being held to field goals. Is that a big confidence booster for you guys? "Yeah, we are going to make plays on defense just as they make plays on offense. We are going to help them get the ball back. We did a great job. TD [Thomas Davis came up on a pick."

How tough is it going to be to be out here for the week after losing the first game of this road trip? "We just have to move on. That's it."

Did you expect to be on the field more in passing situations? "It just depends. When my number is called, I just go out there. If not, I will be on special teams.

Are you going to be able to get out and see your mom this week? "Yeah, that is where I am going right now. Time to shower and get out there."

View game action photos from Carolina's 35-32 loss to Oakland.

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