Find out what the players had to say inside the locker room after the 20-17 loss to the Chiefs.
HEAD COACH RON RIVERA
Thoughts on today's game: "It's just disappointing. We had every opportunity to win a football game today and we didn't take advantage of it. You can't turn the football over. You have to protect the football. When you have opportunities, you have to take advantage and that's a disappointment. We played against a good football team; a football team that stayed poised and made plays when they needed to. We didn't. We had opportunities. We just have to protect the football better."
Thoughts on why the 10 minute offensive drive not successful: "You can't take back to back sacks. You just can't. That's the bottom line there and that's disappointing. We had every opportunity to score. We grounded out, ate up the clock and put ourselves in position and then we have two negative plays. We actually had three negative plays. We had a run for a minus and then two sacks. Can't do it. Just can't do it. If you do that, you don't give yourselves opportunities to win football games."
On the team's execution in the fourth quarter: "It's a matter of protecting the football late in the game. We turned the ball over twice. You can't do it. If you do that, you don't give yourselves a chance to win. That's the truth in the matter. We have to protect the football. You have to do that."
On the performance of the offense in second half compared to first half: "It didn't stall. We just didn't score when we had opportunities. We drove. We had it for almost ten minutes in the third quarter. Just can't do certain things to hurt ourselves and that's what happened."
Did Tre Boston make his case for more playing time? "He is continuing to do that. Again, he is a young guy who is learning a lot and doing some really good things, helping us. He made a big play on a deep ball and that's what he is capable of. That's what we feel he has the ability to do. He just has to continue to grow and improve on what we are doing."
On the challenge presented by the short week leading into Thursday's game again New Orleans: "Well, that's one plus. We don't have to dwell on this for very long and we can start getting focused on the Saints. What we have done is put our backs completely against the wall. There is no room for error now. What we have to do is we have to go forward. I have to make sure we do that."
Will Ryan Kalil play Thursday? "We will find out. We will see how he is tomorrow. We are working towards that but at the end of the day we have a solid backup in Gino Gradkowsk."
Thoughts on the performance of the young corners: "Well, I think the biggest thing is that they have to learn to play the game a little bit in terms of sometimes we tend to line up in our position a little too soon and veteran quarterbacks tend to exploit that. We have to be able to understand when we can get into a press position, when we can be in an off position, when we can jump. Those different types of techniques are some of those things that they will learn as they get more and more experience."
On the 20-play drive and what he saw from the two sacks: "Anytime you have a long drive like that, you don't want to void it with no points. I just have to find ways to get the ball out of my hands and that's what has to happen."
On the Chiefs secondary and the two plays with Eric Berry and Marcus Peters: "One play I was just trying to give my guy opportunity. You know, Eric Berry, on top of the whole Chiefs secondary is like I said, very opportunistic. They are a great defense, a great bunch. They gave us – they challenged us as we knew they would. But for the most part, it comes down to us about how our execution carries over to the game. We had our opportunities. We had our plays that needed to be made and they just made more plays than us today."
QB CAM NEWTON
His message to Kelvin Benjamin after the last turnover: "There wasn't really much to be said. Kelvin's a professional. I know that if anybody knows what his worth is to this team, you know it's him. Things happen. There's no need to grieve over something that we all understand it just happens. Plays happen. They had a guy that fumbled. Their ball goes out of bounds but needless to say, we still stand optimistic about this whole season and we're onto New Orleans."
Comments on the game plan for the final drive and if the goal was to give Graham Gano an opportunity for a field goal: "Absolutely. Anytime as an offense, we try to muster plays as much as possible. And when we do that, we put ourselves in the best situation to win. We have to find ways to run the football better. I have to trust more and as an offense, we have to be better. Defensively, we couldn't pretty much ask much from those guys. Everything that they've done in practice and you see them have a great game. Proud to see Gano step in to punt. It's been this kind of season but I reiterate, there's no quit in our team especially no quit in myself and we're looking forward to this game on Thursday."
On why he brought back the dab after his rushing touchdown: "It's just any spark. It's hard to score in this League and I guess it was much anticipated."
If he has been involved in a game that has turned as quickly as today's did: "I don't think it really turned more so than we didn't keep the aggression as a whole. Not taking no shots at nobody but more so, it starts with me as the leader of the offense to realize that every play counts. When you're playing a stingy defense like today, you know you valued a three or four-yard gain and getting yourself manageable third-and-shorts. When you find yourself at third-and-ten, eight and nine, that's exactly what the secondary wants you to do. So for us, it's just keeping the foot on the pedal and knowing that we have to finish from this point on.
Thoughts on how to balance not trying to take a sack and not allowing a turnover at the same time: "It's not easy. But you just have to do it. I have full trust in, not only myself, but in my teammates that we will find ways."
His thoughts on Mike Shula's comments of him not letting go of the ball quickly but making a play out of it: "It's just the flow of the game. You can't really pinpoint. Any time when you predetermine or telegraph any situation, that's when mistakes happen. But for us, we played three great quarters of football, well really one great half of football. We just have to find any and every way to keep that aggression moving forward to play four quarters of Carolina Panthers football."
On if it was designed for him to be more involved in the run game: "I'm just here to be the best player I possibly can be and I can be that by being as coachable as possible. Coach kept calling my number. We just have to find ways to run the football more, when we have to and when we want to. We've got guys like Jonathan Stewart. Fozzy Whittaker came in and provided a spark as well as Mike Tolbert. We have to get back to that and I know we will with a great week of practice and find ways."
If he thinks the team's back is up against a wall: "There's no need to panic. I think we have a couple key losses from some teams. So that's our optimism. When you look at it, whatever our record is, it's not good. But yet we have a locker room full of winners and a locker room full of guys that's full of fight still and I know I am willing to go to battle with those guys. I can't wait until Thursday."
Regarding the tactics to keep the aggression through four quarters of the game: "You can't really wait for anybody else to make a play. That's what it really comes down to. I always say offensive football is the ultimate team sport because you've got one person that dominates, another person that dominates and one guy that slips and falls, then the whole offense looks bad. So for us, it's just everybody, eleven guys on one side of the ball to focus and hone in and say that "I'm going to hone in and police myself knowing that I have people that are trusting and depending on me."
WR DEVIN FUNCHESS
On the difference between the first and second half: "It was like a blur. We had that long drive in the third quarter. That went quick. Other than that, I can't tell you much about that."
On the team's short week ahead of Thursday night's game:"We just have to execute. Go in, watch film, scratch that off and then go into Thursday's game."
His thoughts on the game: "It was a hard fought game. We were out there battling just trying to make plays on both sides of the ball and special teams."
K GRAHAM GANO
How much do you practice punting during the week? "Never. I'll hit one every now and again, just because. I never practice. My job here is to kickoff and kick field goals so that's what I focus on."
on his 54-yard punt: "Yeah, I was hoping it would check up but it went into the end zone. I got ahold of a couple of them."
What was it like to be punting again for the first time in a while? "It was unfortunate. Andy Lee has done such a good job for us. Hopefully everything is alright with him. He does such a fantastic job but Coach Rivera is always talking about next man up so I just tried to step in, catch the ball and get it off."
When did you punt regularly last? "In college. I punted for three years at Florida State."
When you punted in the NFL last was it for the same type of situation you were in today? "Yes, it was for the Redskins in my second year or something like that. The punter went down in warm ups and I had to step in and punt."
TE GREG OLSEN
On the game's outcome: "It's obviously disappointing. We had the game pretty much won. We obviously made some critical errors there but I think the biggest thing is we didn't lose the game because we fumbled the ball at the end. The fact that we were in that position is why we lost the game. You can't be up 17-3 at half, come out of halftime and have the ball and go on what felt like the whole quarter drive, have the ball on the twenty and not even attempt a field goal. That's why we lost the game. Things like that. Just a shame it had to end that way. We shouldn't have even been in that position. That's what hurts more than anything."
On the difference offensively between the first half and the second half: "We didn't score obviously. We took that long drive, and almost had the ball for what seemed like almost the entire third quarter. Like I said, we had the ball on the twenty yard line and don't even attempt a field goal. That's two weeks in a row that that has happened to us. It's too hard to move the ball on these teams and not even give yourselves a chance for points. To have the ball on the twenty and end up pointing was obviously disappointing. That drive was a big turning point in the game and instead of going 20-3, we go 17-6. It's tough."
LB LUKE KUECHLY
On Kansas City coming back to win the game:"You fight during the whole game. You play well and sometimes it doesn't go your way. Fortunately, for us we've got a good team and a good group of guys that will come back to work tomorrow and get ready to go. We've got a good bunch of older guys that understand how this game works. We'll remain focused, remain steadfast and working hard, trying to go out and get wins. Sometimes stuff doesn't go your way but it's how you respond to it. We're going to come in tomorrow and get ready to go. We've got a short week and we have a good team coming in."
On having their backs against the wall: "Yeah that's kind of the point we're at right now. It's not where you want to start. When you look at the season, it's not where you want to be but it's where we're at now. Just have to make the most of the opportunity. So we've got a good team, great group of guys and great coaches. We're going to do our best to get this thing moving in the right direction."
S TRE BOSTON
On Carolina's defense: "I felt like we were playing pretty good ball on defense. We allowed three field goals and a two point conversion. It's a tough one."
On Kansas City's offense: "After I got the interception, we felt them throwing dinks and dunks. They were going to take care of the ball, let their defense keep them in the game. Alex Smith did a good job managing here and there, letting guys make plays."
On his first quarter interception: "I was in middle thirds. Saw Alex Smith set up, staring down the field, hitch step and I broke on the ball knowing exactly where I wanted to go. I made the play and got up and tried to get as much as I could before getting back down."
WR KELVIN BENJAMIN
On his fourth-quarter fumble: "It was a single slant route. I caught it and the guys were trying to pry it out. I was trying to go to the ground but they got it out before I got down."
At what point did you feel that pressure coming for that strip of the ball? "I think initially I felt him trying to get in there and get it. That's why I was trying to go down quick but I got held up a little bit."
On how he would describe the game overall for the Panthers: "I think it's tough being a competitor. I think we were doing what we needed to do to win the game but came up short."
Is it a good thing that you play again on Thursday? "Yeah. I can try to forget about it and move on."
Thoughts on the 20 play, ten minute drive in third quarter that led to zero points a turning point in the game: "I think we lost a lot of momentum. It's always bad when you don't put points on the board. It's a lot of stuff that was just left out there on the field."
S KURT COLEMAN
On Kansas City coming back to win the game: "They found a way. Even when the odds kind of stacked against them, they found a way. They continued to battle just like our team did. It was a good battle, it was a good test. Unfortunately, they came up with one more turnover than we did and it was at a crucial time and in crucial field position. As a whole, we didn't get it done today. We have to figure out what we can do better. We'll move on and press forward."
On Head coach Ron Rivera saying that Carolina has its back against the wall: "There's nothing that he's going to say to you guys that he hasn't already said to us. It is the truth. Looking at the statistics, 10-6 could get you in, it may not. I've been on a 10-6 team where we did not get in the playoffs. Bottom line is, we have no room for more error but I think – I know I've been saying this week-in and week-out – we have to go 1-0. It's a short week, we have to go 1-0. That's the main objective, to figure out how we can put ourselves in the best position to go 1-0."
WR TED GINN JR.
On the final result of the game: "At the end of the line, you always want to come out with a victory. That's what we felt short of today. Throughout the course of the game – first half, I think we came out and played pretty fast and sound on both sides of the ball and on special teams. Second half, we came out and on the offensive side, we had a couple mishaps and different things like that. We had the ball for a very long time in the third quarter but we didn't come away with any points at the end of that. At the end of the day, I think we did some good things and we did some bad things as you can see. We just have to go to the drawing board and keep pushing forward."
On Kelvin Benjamin's turnover on Carolina's final drive: "It's hard to really be out there and criticize a guy when he has four-five guys around him. We all want you to catch the ball and get down but things like that happen. I know he's going to take it upon himself and beat himself up as much as he can because that's what great players do. On the flip side, we just have to show him and tell him that we're still behind him, we're still with him and we can't really move without him. He's our guy. He's our dude. Every big time player will have mistakes. Jordan missed game-winners. Kobe missed game-winners. The ones that you hold on to and the ones that you make are always the ones that stand out"
View game action photos from Carolina's 20-17 loss to Kansas City.