CHARLOTTE – Quarterback Cam Newton said he could sense what those in attendance were thinking when he walked into the press conference room after Sunday's 12-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
"For me, just evaluating the whole room, everybody is like, 'Oh, here we go again,'" Newton said.
After a 2-8 start last season and constant offseason talk about the need for a strong start in 2013, the season opener was understandably a big game.
But it's not the only game.
"Let's not get up in arms about what's going on right now," Newton said. "Let's not panic now."
Instead, Newton and the Panthers will do what they must – move on.
"This is the first game," Newton said. "And we're going to learn from it."
Said head coach Ron Rivera: "Just go right back to work. Just try to find the answer. That's what I'll continue to do."
The first game may not make or break a season, but Rivera knows the answer must be found quickly.
"We found it last year late, and it's time to find it early," he said. "We are most certainly going to find that answer and get rolling."
When the Panthers review the Week 1 tape, they'll see some encouraging signs to build on, particularly on defense.
Carolina limited Seattle – who averaged 25.9 points per game a season ago –to 12 points. Star running back Marshawn Lynch – the NFL's third leading rusher in 2012 - had just 43 yards on 17 carries.
It was a defensive effort left tackle Jordan Gross called "inspirational."
"You should win a lot of games when the other team scores 12 points," Gross said. "There's no secret. We need to score more points."
There's no doubt about that. Seven points and 243 total yards weren't enough and won't be enough.
The Seahawks lived up to their defensive billing Sunday. They had the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL last season and after winning a playoff game in 2012, many have pegged them as Super Bowl favorites in the NFC.
Wide receiver Steve Smith is aware.
"If that's who is the best team, you know it came down to the last 2:36, and it was a well fought game," Smith said.
It certainly was, and Smith made it clear he believes the Panthers are capable of earning a spot right alongside the Seahawks in the postseason.
"I think we're going to see them again deep in January," Smith said.