Game Quotes: Panthers vs. Falcons

HEAD COACH RON RIVERA

General comments on today's game: "Just disappointing. We had some opportunities. We didn't protect the ball early on. We didn't take the ball away. We did harass their quarterback a little bit but we had some opportunities. We just missed plays and that is disappointing. I thought we had a good week. I thought our preparation was sharp. I thought the guys looked good coming into the game and then at the end of the day we just didn't get it done."

On the performance of Cam Newton: "I thought he was hot and cold. There were some really good things that we did. Probably the biggest thing we didn't do was we got into the red zone and we didn't put the ball into the end zone. You score 16 points means you kicked three field goals. You are not going to beat good teams by kicking field goals. We have talked about that before. For whatever reason we didn't put the ball in the end zone when we needed to."

On Atlanta's first drive: "You have to be able to stop the run early and get them in the position where they are not going to be able to throw play action. Where it doesn't slow your rush down. We had some pretty good situations in the second and third quarter where we were able to shut the run down, get after the quarterback and you guys saw what happened. Unfortunately we had an opportunity on third and long and we get out leveraged on the flat and they get the first down and that kind of took the wind out of our sails. We had some good momentum. We drove down and unfortunately we didn't make the play."

On the Tevin Coleman 55 yard touchdown run: "Tre Boston is playing there with a bad knee and he is coming to try and make a play. James Bradberry is trying to strip the ball. I'd much rather see him just jump on the back of his legs and just tackle him as opposed to trying to strip the ball. We missed it right there."

On the play before the Coleman touchdown and if it was blown coverage: "Yep, we allowed ourselves to get out leveraged. At that point what you really want them to do is throw the ball in front of you and that's unfortunate. We just didn't stay where we were supposed to. We might have been able to cause something different but at the end of the day we just didn't execute."

Regarding Tre Boston's knee injury and if it was a factor late in the game: "I think so. I think he is playing hard, trying to do the best he can out there. He made some plays but again we had a chance to get a guy down and guys are expecting a little more leverage on the tackle and we didn't get it."

On Greg Olsen's 1000 yard record: "That's cool. Good for Greg. He has been nothing but a great warrior for us on this football team. It doesn't surprise me that he has accomplished what he has being a part of what we do, he especially."

On playing hard no matter what or playing for 2017: "It's not going to be hard. That's what we do. We are going to go out and play. That's what I told the guys in the locker room. I said guys; we have one left to play. I expect us to play hard because my attitude is that we are playing to win. I'm not looking for anything other than that. We are playing for 2017 but at the same time we still have a game to play. Can you set a tone and tempo? Yes, you can most certainly can and we have to go out and do our jobs."

On the future looking bright with how James Bradberry and Shaq Thompson are playing: "I thought the young guys all played well. James had a good day with the exception of that. I thought Daryl Worley did some nice things. You saw Tre Boston out there battling, doing the best he can. We see what Shaq Thompson is capable of. I thought Vernon Butler made some plays when he had his opportunities. Offensively it was great to see Kelvin Benjamin. Kelvin made some plays and he played hard. You guys saw the energy he can bring when he is making plays and getting opportunities. Kelvin probably had his best week this week. I thought he practiced very well. It looked like he was healthy. I don't think there are any lingering effects of his shoulder. He went out and was physical and that is the kind of receiver he is. He can be a dominate guy in this league."

On if this is what you would like to see out of Kelvin Benjamin every week: "Oh yeah. But again, he is coming off of a knee injury. He had a bad shoulder for a while. He had a bad back. Like I said, this was probably the best week he had. It really was and that is what he is capable of. I would love to see it every week."

On if Cam Newton's shoulder injury affecting his accuracy: "I don't want to say or give a number because I just don't know. But it probably is."

QB CAM NEWTON

On today's game: "We didn't start fast as an offense. Just all and all, we couldn't get into a rhythm and that can't happen. We would have wanted to have better results obviously, especially for our last home game. But that's football. You just have to roll with the punches and respond to whatever situations that are given to you. We know that, we understand that, and as a team, we just have to play better complimentary football."

On the first half performance: "That's just football, like I said. You can't say what it is. You can't say, "You can stay away from it." You just have to get into a rhythm. Running the football, passing the football, it all comes down to the little things. We just have, me personally, I have to find completions."

If he has felt like himself these past few weeks: "Yes."

If his shoulder has "played a part in his recent struggles: "It's alright. There is no need to dwell on something. I'm not going to blame anything but my production. Production hasn't been solid, and that's me. I can't point to something and say, "Well, this is the reason," more so than it just hasn't been carrying over to the game."

On the difference in play from Monday night vs. Washington and today's game: "We are just trying to get mended up. But that's all in the game of football. I can't say we can't allow that to happen but it's football. We had opportunities during the football game today and we didn't maximize those opportunities. Nevertheless, no need to cry over spilled milk. I'm extremely proud of this team. You have guys out there battling through injuries, still playing, [Kelvin] Benjamin being one of those guys, Greg [Olsen] being one of those guys, and those guys finding ways to play. Our inability to push through lulls has been the story of our life this year. Like I said, that's in the game of football. You're going to have games like this where you struggle early and you have opportunities late, and it's up to you to make certain things happen. Today's Christmas, my son's birthday so there's not a lot to be mad at."

On the performance of Kelvin Benjamin: "It started earlier this week. He's been practicing with a chip on his shoulder. I had an unbelievable talk with him and just, for the most part, kind of overthinking things. We know who we are and what we are good at and that's what we have to do. Simply, when you allow Benji to be him, things like that will flash across your face in amazement. That's just a result of him doing 110 percent. That's all you can ask for."

On if Kelvin Benjamin is stepping up as a leader: "He has. I'm proud of him because not only has he done that, he's been asked to do more. And his role from other teams – from college, I don't know what it was – but for him as he grows older, people look up to him. People look to see how he will react, and one of those people is me. If a person has that much know-how and that much worth, he's been filling the shoes as we need, but we all could be better.

On Greg Olsen's greatest accomplishment: "When you guys told me on Wednesday or Thursday about what he had done and what he was potentially going to do, I didn't know that. That's a big deal. That's Hall of Fame type caliber stuff right there. And Greg, like I said, you can't put back-to-back negative things to say about him. He's such a great guy, very family-oriented, great teammate and a person that is an ultimate professional. He understands ball and today, I'm happy to see him get that accolade."

On what Greg Olsen has done for him: "He has made my life easy, extremely easy. It's just the little things. It's being an accountable teammate, on and off the field. Greg's a person who is an unbelievable ear, he's an unbelievable leader, and he's an unbelievable person that gets it. He has been in this league a long time and the struggles from talking to him was him leaving Chicago. I know that is six years removed but that was the turning point in his career. And a lot of guys when they go to different organizations, they can either tank it or just say I'm not wanted. But Greg used this as an opportunity to make him a Carolina Panther for life. When you have guys around like that, then your organization is on the up-and-up."

Thoughts on not reaching the Playoffs this year: "Disappointed but there is hope for the future. We had a long run. It's time for guys to take a sabbatical so to speak and just get away from it. We have one game left, and there are guys that I know for a fact that will give everything they have and more. We have an unbelievable opportunity to still accomplish a lot of things with us being such a young team. We just have to control the things we can. "

TE GREG OLSEN

On the disappointment in finishing with a loss at home: "It wasn't a very good day for us, especially offensively. They got off to a good start, we got off to a poor start. We were never really able to find our groove. We didn't give ourselves much of a chance."

On what it takes to achieve 3-consecutive 1,000 yard seasons: "It encompasses a lot of things that I have tried to pride myself on. I'm never the flashiest guy or anything like that, but just be productive. Be productive consistently, be reliable, be durable. There are so many things that go in to just having the opportunity to put up those numbers 3 years in a row. A big part of it is just playing every game, every snap. Today was a little tough, a little different as far as that goes, but those are all things that I tried to build my career on and build my reputation on. I think all of those factors have come together to accomplish this."

On being the only tight end in the league to reach this accomplishment: "I was asked about it in pre-season, and I said 'You're damn right, I want to do it'. It was something that I set out and took a lot of pride in trying to accomplish. To be able to do it would have been a lot nicer after a win, but I'm not a huge stat guy. I'd be lying if I said this wasn't something that I wanted to accomplish. To accomplish something that no one else has in this position, I'll be able to forever hold on to that as my career comes to an end. Like I said, I've taken a lot of pride in the way I go about my business, my career, and the way I try to do things on and off the field. There has been a lot of work put in to be able to do that."

CB JAMES BRADBERRY

On Atlanta's running game: "You continue to learn when an offense is trying to get to you. Atlanta is in our division, so every year we are going to play them. I will continue to learn their offense. This is my first year in the League, so I am going to go back, watch film, and continue to learn the things they like to do.

On upsetting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: "It looks like it is going to be our last game, so we've got to give it all we've got. Make the most out of opportunities. We have one more opportunity, so let's make the most out of it."

WR KELVIN BENJAMIN

On the Falcons' coverage on defense: "Yeah, that first time the played a little bit more zone. They definitely came to play us man, challenge the receivers. That's the set. Ted [Ginn, Jr.], Philly [Corey Brown], all those guys blocking down field and running their routes."

On the mindset of the wide receivers: "I preached that to the guys all week. There was just so much going on this season and the team was frustrated with injuries. A lot of things took place. We wanted to come out and set the tone, especially in blocking. That's the basis of a wide receiver first. We block first and then we catch the ball to make plays. Just trying to be unselfish."

S KURT COLEMAN

On if Atlanta is the blueprint of what the Panthers need to do offensively and defensively: "No, we just need to be us. I don't want to say that we want to be them. We have the blueprint. We have what it takes. We just have to play as one. Everybody has to complement each other, do their job, and make the plays when we are in position."

On the motivation to take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of playoff contention: "We are here to win.  Every time we want it. We are here to win. That is the bottom line. I don't care what we are playing for. We are here to win, every time we step on the field. Whether it's to knock them out of playoff contention or just win the game."

On the missed third-and-long attempt: "Bottom line is that we didn't make the play. We are better than that, but we didn't get it done today."

DE MARIO ADDISON

On losing to Atlanta: "The only reason you play is to win. When you come up short like this, it's just a bad feeling, a really bad feeling. We have one more game to play and we're going to play our hearts out until the end."

On the outcome of the game: "They came out and brought their best and we fell short."

If he thinks he deserves more playing time: "I've been ready. I've been ready for a few years now but I embrace my role. Whatever they want me to do, I do it. And I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. I've been ready."

LB SHAQ THOMPSON

On mistakes made on defense: "You know, we gave up a lot of points, some big shots. We came back in the second half and tried to keep them down. Out biggest thing, we just need to tackle. That's our biggest thing. We'll bounce back. We have one more game versus Tampa [Bay Buccaneers] and the only way to go out with a bang is to win."

On the importance of winning the last game of the season: "If we get this last win, it's going to give everybody hope and next season we are going to come in stronger with a chip."

TRE BOSTON

On Tevin Coleman's 55-yard touchdown run: "I should've made the tackle."

On if he thought James Bradberry was going to tackle Coleman on the play: "I did. I thought James was going to make the tackle. I'm a little beat up so I thought I could let it fall right in front of me. It didn't happen like that. You have to go attack things. You have to make a play."

On the frustration after the loss: "Of course, you want to go out there and you want to play better. But we weren't able to. On to the next one to finish our season the right way."

View game action photos from Carolina's 33-16 loss to Atlanta.

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