Game Quotes: Panthers vs. Cardinals

HEAD COACH RON RIVERA

On the difference today with the pass rush: I think it came in bunches. I think there were some things that really happened. I think our guys really took it to heart. We had a good week, a lot of good things that happened. I think our young corners stepped up today as well. I thought Tre Boston played a solid football game as well. Getting Leonard Johnson in the mix I think seemed to energize our group as well. He came off the edge and blitzed a couple times and did some nice things.  Again, it all kind of goes hand in hand. When you are covering, it helps the guys up front and when the guys up front are doing well it helps the guys in coverage.

Sean McDermott's use of blitzes today: I thought Sean McDermott mixed it up very nicely and did the things we needed to do to give ourselves the chance to get after the quarterback. I thought mixing it up and showing the way that we did as far as our linebackers, our nickel and our safeties involved, I thought that really helped and was beneficial to giving us the chance at getting after the quarterback.

On the way the defensive strip lead to a touchdown set the tone: I think it set the tone knowing that truth of the matter is that it was third down so no matter how you look at it, we were going to get off the field. It just turned out that the ball was there. It's something that we emphasize, something that we work on, that we have been working on since I've been here. We tell them to scoop the ball up and we will let the referees look at it and see what it looks like on tape. It worked in our benefit.

On stopping the run today: They have a tremendous running attack. It was one of the important things we needed to do upfront. I thought our defensive line got off on the ball excellent and again, it's something we need to do to carry forward as we get ready for our next football game.

On Using the quick, short pass early to help get the offense going: It did. I thought it helped Cam Newton get into a rhythm. I thought he controlled things very nicely. One thing he wanted to do was he wanted to run the ball. That's his edge as he told you guys on Monday. That's who he is. That's the type of quarterback he is. He brings edge to who we are as a football team and he did some things that really helped us.

On Star Lotulelei's performance today: I thought our tackles all played well. Star did have a big day and I'm anxious to watch the tape so I can kind of focus in on and see who really stepped up. As a unit I thought they played well. It was good to see Kony Ealy get in there and do some things. Again, I really liked what we were getting from that group of guys and it's a reflection of what I think is the growth and development of our secondary as well.

Kony Ealy's play at the end of the game: Yes. He is one of those guys who has that natural feel. I really think he is still on the come. He is a young guy who still has a lot to learn but when he does get his game going he can be a dynamic player.

Was Ealy not being in much of the first half a coach's decision: No, it was pretty much kind of rotational. We didn't start him today. We moved him around. We played him a lot on the left side. One of the things we saw from the evaluation that we did a week ago was he is better from the left. Well, we have Charles Johnson who is playing great on the left as well so we rotated those guys a little bit more than we do in place of each other. Near the end we just started mixing them up because they needed breaks.

Was Kony Ealy in coverage on the interception? No. Kony was driving and he saw the quarterback and saw he was trying to get it out quick. So Kony jumped up and made a play.

On the importance of the win opposed to going 1-6: It's huge because it is one of those things you can build momentum off of. We have been close a couple times.  A couple times we just didn't play to our abilities. Today we played to our abilities. We could have had some better things happen for us. There are some things that still need to get fixed up. I am most certainly going to look at what happened in the redzone a couple times when we had to kick field goals. When you get down in the redzone you have to score touchdowns especially against a dynamic offense like this. You don't want to give them the chance to come back or at least think they can come back. They did a nice job fighting to the end.

On the concern with Ryan Kalil's injury: No, the first thing I was told he sprained his shoulder so that's all I have on that. The other one is Shaq Thompson and I was told he sprained his knee. Those were the only two I was told about and we will find out once they see the doctors.

On the defensive change to get pressure on their quarterback? I thought Eric Washington and those guys did a nice job of getting out. I think coming off the bye was great for our guys. They seemed to take it to heart. They got away and then then came back and seemed to be rejuvenated. A big win like this is hopefully something that we can build momentum on as we go forward.

Was it special for the team to see Thomas Davis score a touchdown? Absolutely. I think that anytime Thomas steps up and makes plays I think the guys really do appreciate that because he works so hard. Not because of what he has come through but because he is the one of the heart and soul players on this team. I think everybody is really thrilled for him.

Are you surprised this is Thomas Davis' first touchdown? I really was. It was kind of neat that he got that opportunity. Hopefully it's just the start of a few more.

Does it feel like a weight was lifted today? Yes, it does. Again, because when you have done some good things and we are better but you are what your record says. We have to continue to roll now. Our objective is to win them one win at a time. We will enjoy this. Once we get done with the press conference tomorrow, we will start in on our next opponent.

QB CAM NEWTON

Thoughts on winning the game: It feels good to win. It feels great to win. It was a great team win, the defense, offense as well as special teams came together. You know, it was a great team win.

On if the quick passes in the beginning of the game helped to find rhythm: Yes, on top of multiple things. The offensive line played very physical. We ran the football extremely well and for us, like I said, it's just playing great team ball. Often times in this year, you see the defense playing pretty well and then at the end, it's just a disconnect. You know today, it was great to see the defensive line get after those guys and charge us up. Starting the game 7-0 kind of puts you at ease but still making sure you don't take that great field position for granted, and that's what we tried to do.

His excitement on the field when Thomas Davis scored his first career touchdown: It's nothing different. It was just the energy of the game. You know, trying to get our crowd involved as much as I can, we can, because that's our edge, playing in front of our home team at Bank of America Stadium, the best fans in the league, in my opinion. We have to keep putting them together. It was a great win, like I said today. We have to keep finding ways to get this feeling moving forward.

The importance of a dominant pass-rush: It's just something that you have to think about especially as a quarterback because no matter what the play is called, you know, after being hit a couple times, you just try to find ways to get the ball out of your hands. If you have extra protection, you still have to find certain ways to do that. But major kudos to our defensive line today and even our secondary. Leonard Johnson came out and was an extremely big spark for us and he will keep helping us moving forward. And everyone just becoming more familiar with the whole philosophy of the defense.

On if he was surprised about the officials not calling the low-hit on him: I'm speechless. But next question.

How the bye week helped prepare the team for today's game: You got away from football just to take a step back and to find ways to mesh together, like I said. It's great to have a performance like we did today with defense, offense and special teams.

Coach Rivera's comment about saying he wanted to run the ball more today: I always want to run it. Whatever it takes to win, I'm for it. So, nothing different.

Thoughts about Coach Rivera saying a weight has been lifted after winning today: It's always a better feeling when you win. So I mean, I would agree with him.

Thoughts on how the win affected the secondary: I can't really speak on those guys because they're a young group yet still hungry to, number one, prove to not only to teammates but to themselves that they can do this. Lil' Daryl, Lil' Mexico, all those guys, trying to get Major James back as fast as we can. Like I said, having guys like Robert McClain, you know, Leonard Johnson, those guys pushing those young guys forward. And as long as they keep having a steadfast mind to learn and not shut out coaching or older players on the team, they'll be fine. In this league, it's all about competing and overall confidence in yourself because if you don't have none of those two in your formula, then it's going to be tough. All three of those guys possess that so we'll be good.

DT KAWANN SHORT

On how a dominating win like this can help the Panthers moving forward: It gives us our confidence and swagger back. We know what we are capable of. We needed that bye week. We came out and showed it. We still have some work to do, but we'll focus on that this week.

On the defense's energy and determination: I can buy that. It can go a lot of ways. A lot of people stepped up from the front end to the back end. That's what we needed. We focused on that this week.

On Star Lotulelei's performance: It was his game. He did everything. Everybody just rode his coattail and did what we are capable of doing.

The confidence of the Panthers' defense: As a defensive line, we focused on getting off the ball and creating havoc. We didn't think about messing up and if we did, we were going 100 miles per hour. From Charles Johnson to Wes Horton. Guys were just out there playing.

DE CHARLES JOHNSON

On if it was a statement game: I won't say it was a statement game, but we worked during the week and you see how we worked during the week and we came out on top on Sunday. We'll work during the week and hopefully come out on top again on Sunday.

Was there a sigh of relief with the win? Big time. We needed the win, I'm just happy we got a win. We really needed a win. I just think it was an all-around team game and everybody contributed. We just have to keep it one game at a time.

On the importance of having both sides play well: It was very important. You see how we can play if everybody comes to the table, especially offense, defense and special teams. If we all play at a certain level we've got a chance to win.

Thoughts on the bye week: It contributed a lot. We got a rest, everybody came back healthy, we got some players back and everyone came back ready to play, so it helped a lot.

Thoughts on the defensive touchdown early in the game: It was big. Anytime we can start off like that with a defensive touchdown it sets the tone for the game.

TE GREG OLSEN

On how fun it was to watch Carolina's defense: That was pretty fun to watch. That first half was pretty dominant. The last drive of the first half is what it is. Outside of that, our D-line was all over them. I thought our secondary played really well. I was happy for those guys. From the sideline view, it was fun to watch.

Thougths on the offense and defense equally playing well: I think you have to understand that there's a reason we played well today. It goes back to our preparation. It goes back to what we did to put ourselves in position. This didn't just happen. It's going to take that same, consistent effort each week to put ourselves in position to find success. We're going to enjoy this for today and then get back to work and get ready for our west coast trip.

On the performance Jonathan Stewart: He's tough. Teams aren't thrilled to tackle him. You can kind of see that. Sometimes he makes the guys, all of us, look pretty good because he can make up for a lot. He's a hard guy to tackle. He's so tough. Anytime we have him, it's a huge boost to our offense.

RB JONATHAN STEWART

Thoughts on Carolina's first win since Week Two: It's been a long time and you definitely don't want to take these wins for granted. Lesson learned. Coming off a season like last year and starting off a season like we did this year – if any team could go out and display what we did, it's us. Long week of preparation and practice, building our confidence and it shows out there on the field. Our guys just really came together.

On his production and the offensive game plan: Power running game and getting those guys off the line of scrimmage. That's what we were doing today. That offensive line, they always do a great job moving guys off the line of scrimmage and making it easy for the running backs and Cam to be able to run. That's what Coach Shula probably saw and he went with his professional outlook on the game.

On how he broke off multiple big runs: You have to be patient, which kind of goes in terms with the read-option because you have to be patient there on your reads too. It all funnels into the same thing but now you're just being patient and pulling on the guy that's making a way for you. You just want to make sure you don't miss the opportunity of the holes that they open up.

On when the team knew that they could control the game: Right out of the gate, it's only right that T.D. [Thomas Davis] gets a TD. When that happened, things just automatically changed and everything fell into what we expected the game to fall into. There are still a lot of things we can work on, especially finishing in the red zone as an offense and putting more points on the board. But collectively, today was a good game.

DE KONY EALY

Did your pick remind of you Super Bowl play? No. It's just reminiscent of what we're doing in practice each week.

On the big day for the Carolina defense: It was big. It shows you the playmakers we have on this team and what this defense is capable of when we take off. And not just the defense, the offense came out and hit on all cylinders. Special teams hit on all cylinders. This is the process I've been talking about and I'm pretty sure everybody on this team has been talking about the same thing from the top down and the bottom up, it's a process.

CB LEONARD JOHNSON

On playing in his first game as a member of the Panthers: It's been a journey. It's been a long process. Sometimes, to be honest with you, you have to take it day-by-day. You don't look too far ahead because it can be discouraging at times. I think I did a good job of staying my course and staying engaged with everything going on around me. I thank the Panthers organization for really believing in me and signing me after my Achilles surgery. I thank God for putting me into position to fall into a great organization and a great position to where I can come in and make an immediate impact. I can't thank the guys around the building enough for believing in me and keeping me engaged with everything going on week-by-week. It can be tough when you're on the outside looking in, but the guys in the group – I'm speaking in regards to the secondary and the backers – they did a great job keeping me engaged. Everyone played a key part to my return. This is just my way of simply repaying those guys, the organization and the team for allowing me to join.

On how he picked up the defensive scheme so fast: I've been in the building with Luke [Kuechly] throughout the week and I can say that he takes away the anticipation and the nerves out when he's able to alert you and communicate with you so you guys are on the same page. Kurt [Coleman] does a great job with keeping the back end in control and running the show on the secondary. The thing about playing the nickel is that I'm a backer and I'm a part of the secondary, so I have to be in close communication with both of those guys so we are all on the same page.

LB THOMAS DAVIS

On his fumble recovery returned for a touchdown: It just kind of worked out. I saw him but the first thing I thought about was not letting the first guy tackle me and seeing what was able to happen after that. I was able to separate from the stiff arm and end up in the end zone.

On if he thinks that it was a fumble or incompletion: I took it to the end zone. Whenever the ball is on the ground, that's what we're trained to do. It was a touchdown, I was excited.

If he watched a replay of his touchdown: I did. I did, for a second, think it was going to be incomplete. But the way we practice here, we take everything to the end zone and then let the refs make the decision on whether it's incomplete or a fumble. Everything that's on the ground, we take to the end zone.

On how it feels to score a touchdown: It feels good. A great feeling and something that has eluded me for 12 years but now I'm excited to say that I scored my first touchdown.

LB LUKE KUECHLY

On Carolina's pass rush: Those guys just played really hard. We knew what we had with those guys up front. We knew they could make a difference in any game. Coach [Eric] Washington and Sam [Mills III] have done an excellent job with them. They came out with an edge and intensity and they were one of the biggest reasons we won the game today.

On the team recording eight sacks in the game: When those guys play like that, it makes our job easier. If they're rushing the passer like that, you have to cover for a minimal amount of time and it makes everything easier. Those guys were awesome. They played great and pressure wins games.

On Thomas Davis scoring his first career touchdown: I know he's been waiting a long time for it. He was the happiest dude out there when he scored. He's been in for a long time, made a lot of big plays and to finally get in the end zone, it makes everybody happy.

DT STAR LOTULELEI

On the team pressure on quarterback: It's huge. We've got to work together. It doesn't work…we can't just have coverage out of the rush, we can't have rush without coverage. It goes hand in hand. It was huge.

On the sense of relief with win: Yeah, especially against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are such a good team, to get a win like that against a team as good as they are - it was huge. I think it will help us going forward.

View game action photos from Carolina's 22-19 win over Arizona.

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