CHARLOTTE – The Carolina Panthers' season ended Saturday night in Seattle, but the sun still rose Sunday in Charlotte.
In fact, it rose right around the time the Panthers' team buses pulled back into Bank of America Stadium. Players headed home briefly, then returned to the stadium six hours later to clean out their lockers and head their separate ways.
Here's what some of them had to say following a roller coaster of a season that included a six-game losing streak, a five-game winning streak, a second consecutive NFC South title and the franchise's first playoff victory in nine years.
LB Thomas Davis: "We put the work in, we gave our best effort and we came up short. At the end of the day, when you look at this season, I think there is a lot we can build off of. The sad part about is when you look around locker room, you know you'll never play with some of these guys again. That's the reality of this business. I love this team. I love all my brothers in this locker room. It's tough to see the season end this way."
CB Josh Norman: "It came crashing down on me in the locker room – like wow, this is it. I was expecting to play next week. This is what you get – trash bags the next day. It's a hard pill to swallow. ... I didn't want it to end. But you have to keep pressing on."
RB Jonathan Stewart: "Back-to-back division titles – it's becoming a culture of winning and being noticed as a winning team. We have what it takes. We had a lot of ups and downs and a lot of unfortunate situations this year. But we put ourselves in playoff position, and it says a lot about our team."
K Graham Gano: "I think it shows the type of character we have on this team. We were 3-8-1 at one point this year, and everybody was saying how terrible we were. Then we made the playoffs. I think we shut a lot of people up. That felt good, but now we've got to build on it. Everybody wants to win the Super Bowl."
S Tre Boston: "It was crazy how we dealt with adversity and everything that went on with this season. It's one of those things where you can't believe it's coming to an end because we had so much momentum. We were playing so well, firing on all cylinders. It came to an end so abruptly, but we took a step. We're looking forward to the future."
LB Luke Kuechly: "It's all your buddies, all your guys you've been with since the start of the season. That's the part you miss. You miss being around them, miss being around the locker room, miss going out to practice. You just miss being around football. But it will go quick. We'll be back here before you know it and ready to go again."
Senior writer Bryan Strickland and staff writer Max Henson contributed to this report.