HEAD COACH MATT RHULE
Credit to the Kansas City Chiefs – they made the plays down the stretch that it takes to win these types of games. I know our team is extremely disappointed. We had every opportunity to win the football game and we did not – coaches, players, staff; not any one person, all of us – we did not make the plays to win the game. We came here to win, we didn't get it done and so we'll head back to Charlotte and continue to work on getting ready for next week.
RE: The aggressiveness on the first two drives of the game
I think we felt like we had good plays. We went for it twice last week on fourth down and didn't get them, so I don't think it was any different mindset this week. [Special teams coordinator] Chase [Blackburn] and [assistant special teams coordinator] Ed [Foley] had a great punt fake that they thought would be up and I was going to use it on the first drive but we converted, so I used it on the second drive. We just felt like those things were there. Later on, we obviously converted the fourth-and-19, that was just more of a 'hey, what else can you do in the game but that.' We came to win. We came to play to win. We wanted to get a win and tried to play that way.
RE: Update on Christian McCaffrey
I don't know anything about him injury-wise. No one's updated me, anything about him yet. Usually, as I get on the plane, I get anything. I thought Christian did a nice job, made plays for us as he always does.
RE: If the mindset going against the reining Super Bowl champions was having to "match them blow for blow"
I don't think it was anything about them because that (the fourth down conversion) was on the first drive and then we held them to a field goal on their first drive – it was just down in there tight. We felt like looking back over the course of our year what's kept us from winning more games has been, not moving the football but it's been scoring touchdowns, not field goals, so went for the fourth-and-four. The punt fake, to me, we thought we had it and it was one that if we didn't have the look we could check out of it. Obviously, those things that are well-designed like that make it a lot easier to execute, to call, because you know that the way they're set up, they will be executed.
RE: The decision to go for the first onside kick
They were lined up 15 yards off the ball. That's something that we practice all the time. We were down two scores and we'd been watching it all game, we felt like we had it. I just said when we score here – whether it's a touchdown or field goal – do we think we have it? We thought we had it, so we went for it. And the hope was if we didn't get it, we'd hold them to a field goal because we scored a touchdown and still make it a one-score game. We thought we had it, just that the ball didn't go 10 yards. If the ball goes 10 yards there, I think we probably recover it. Momentum was on our side. Then they moved the ball down and we had them stopped on third-and-eight but we jumped offsides. If we don't jump offsides there, we hold them to a field goal, it's still a six-point game and obviously a lot different. That's just a call that I made. Those are decisions that I have to make. I have to live with them. I'd tell you I'd do it again. I thought we had it and we just weren't quite able to execute it.
RE: Whether the fourth down conversions motivated the team
I don't think our players had any issues being motivated. They had a great week of practice, I think they came in here ready to go. I thought we had guys coming back off of injury battling. I thought our guys played really hard all day. We just made too many little mistakes. It wasn't like a vast difference, we had guys playing guys man-to-man and guys let guys get away from them. We had too many penalties on offense. Not any one person, just all of us as a team, collectively, just didn't do enough to win the game – and that starts with me as the head coach. When you have 12 penalties in a game, it's hard to deserve to win that game. To play a team as good as the Chiefs, it has to be a three, four, five, six penalty game. It can't be a 12-penalty game.
RE: The momentum the fourth down conversions provided
Well yeah, they led to touchdowns and I think that that's what we needed. We needed some energy, but I think our guys were here to play no matter what. They came knowing it was going to be a battle. They fought back – we took the lead and fought back. We had every chance to win the game.
RE: The decision-making process on the final drive
One of the main issues on that drive was the hands to the face, that really set us back. Curtis [Samuel] made a great play, got down and allowed us to spike the ball. We were trying to get the ball up five or 10 yards to take a chance at the field goal. We had one of those plays designed where it was like throw the Hail Mary on the one side and on the other side was the out route. Teddy [Bridgewater] threw the out route and left two seconds out there. We had the wind at our back so we thought our best chance was to kick it. Obviously, it didn't work but it was a long way to go which the penalty certainly didn't help.
RE: The difference McCaffrey makes on offense in the red zone
He scored twice today. He's a great player and great players show up in crucial areas at crucial times – third down, red zone, two minute, all those things – and he showed up in those areas today; he almost scored another touchdown right before the two minute warning. Or I guess he did right after so he had three touchdowns, excuse me. But our ability to run the football results in way more red zone touchdowns and he did a good job.
RE: Realizing there are no moral victories, but what this game says about where the team is right now
Like you said, there are no moral victories in this game. The guys, we fought, we gave ourselves a chance to win the game at the end. Hats off to the Chiefs, they are great football team, they came up on top and we came up just short.
RE: What happened on the fourth down-and-14 run
It was just one of those deals as I was running, I just looked to the sideline to see where the chains were. I knew if I would have went down head first, they might have marked me down a little shorter, so I might have been a little short so I just decided to take flight and sacrifice my body and try to get the first down.
RE: What you want to want to show your teammates when you make a play like that
It's honestly one of those deals where we could all just sacrifice for five seconds, six seconds, for 60 plays a game, 70 plays a game and just give all our effort, then we are a tough team. For me it's just wanting to continue to show the guys that this game, this team means so much to me and I will do whatever I can to win. This situation, got out of the pocket, had a nice lead blocker and just tried to make a play.
RE: What impact, if any, offensive coordinator Joe Brady being on the sideline had today
I think Joe [Brady] has been itching to be on the sideline. I know he says it's much calmer up in the booth, but just having Joe on the sideline, his calm demeanor, he was always even-keeled throughout the course of the game; so that was good to see, that was good for me. We were able to communicate, instead of having to get on the headset, he's able to see the game at field level, he was able to go down and talk to the offensive line, talk to the receivers and things like that. So I think that was pretty good for him to be down there.
RE: Getting Christian McCaffrey back and how Bridgewater views these close games where the team is coming up just short
To answer that first question, it was definitely good having Christian [McCaffrey] back this week. He fought for us, he ran hard, he put the ball out of the backfield, picked up guys in protection and then when Mike [Davis] came in, Mike made some plays as well. It was good to just have both of those guys rolling.
When you think about how we are coming up short in these games, you know a game like today, it pisses you off, especially when you play a team as good as the Chiefs are, that's a great football team. We don't want it to be the common theme of being right there. Obviously, you lose a game, sometimes you are able to learn from it and quickly put it behind. This is one of those games that pisses you off a little bit, at least it should piss you off. We will come in tomorrow, thick skin, watch the tape, be judgmental of each other and be honest with each other.
RE: When the team goes blow for blow with the defending Super Bowl champions, if there is benefit to the team down the road
Of course it does, down the road, but right now, we talked about there are no moral victories. With a game like this you come up short, it's like man you are able to, yeah, measure yourself next to the defending champs but at the same time you don't want to be satisfied with just coming up short. We play this game to win. We can easily say we fought, we played tough, that's what we did, but we didn't come up with the victory. So, I think we just have to get back to work next week, realize some of the things we did wrong. I know we had some penalties, just some things that prevented us from winning this game. Like I said the Chiefs are a great football team, they did everything to win that game, and we did everything to not win that game.
RE: Your mindset on that final drive, specifically as a couple plays finished inbounds and not out of bounds with no timeouts, and thoughts on Joey Slye's final kick
The situation that we were in, we didn't have any timeouts and I am pretty sure the Chiefs were aware of the situation as well. We just wanted to try to advance the ball as fast as possible. Maybe do we wish we could have got out of bounds more, yeah, but the defense that they were playing was defending the sidelines, had to take what they give you. We hit a big play to Curtis [Samuel] down the middle of the field which gave us a chance, then you try to take a cheap five yards to put us in field goal range or something like that to DJ [Moore] but they did a great job of being prepared for it. It's tough on Joey [Slye] to try to kick a 67-yard field goal in this environment. We just came up short as a team and it's going to be on us to fix this.
RE: Going against Patrick Mahommes today
We just have to play better. It was a close game, we have to stop doing self-inflicted wounds on defense. We had a chance.
RE: If man or zone was working better against Travis Kelce
We've just got to execute in both man and zone. He is a great tight end, one of the better tight ends we played against this year. We knew he was a big target for them, we've just got to execute our play.
RE: When you are able to get as close as you are getting but you are not getting over the hump, what that does to the team mentally and how he feels they have to push to get there
We've just got to keep going. Self-inflicted wounds, I mean that's what's killing us. Everybody knows football, you can't win with penalties. That is what happened to us, especially on the defensive side, self-inflicted wounds. We gave them plays that they shouldn't have got.
RE: If go toe-to-toe with the defending Super Bowl Champions helps the team down the road
I mean all of our games that we lost were close, we've just got to find that itch. Like I said if you go back to all of the games that we lost, it's just self-inflicted wounds that we got, especially from the defensive side, I'll just speak on the defensive side. We've just got to cut those out, not jump offsides, not holding, just do our jobs at the end of the day.
RE: The impact of not having Jeremy Chinn and how he felt guys stepped up without him
Everybody stepped up, everybody did their job. I'm really proud of Sam Franklin. Sam Franklin came out there and played, he did well. [Inaudible] we can't wait to have Chinn back, but everybody stepped up and did their part. We've just got to finish.
RE: The message that Coach Rhule delivered to the team after the game and how it was received
We've just got to win. We've got to find a way to win. Stop beating ourselves, like I kept saying, just self-inflicted wounds that happens to us. It's a games of inches and those are the games of inches that we need. Once we stop doing that, we are going to be a hell of a team.
WR Robby Anderson
RE: Falling just short of wins in the last few games
I think it's evident that we're close but close isn't good enough because we're not getting those victories. I just think it trickles down to us not beating ourselves and allowing those mistakes, and eliminating that stuff so we can have a cleaner game and a better opportunity to win.
RE: How the losing during Matt Rhule's first seasons at Temple compares to now and the Panthers
I don't really remember, that was a long time ago. I don't really feel like that's relevant.
RE: Whether opponents approach the Panthers differently with Christian McCaffrey on the field
I can't really say a difference because we never played the Chiefs, so I can't really say a difference.
RE: Whether they talked in practice about being aggressive on fourth downs
I think that's always something that Coach [Rhule] has preached that he'll always be aggressive about and that's something that he's let us know early in the year. I think that was just spur of the moment, we felt like that's something we could get done.
RE: Whether the aggressiveness gives the players a sense of urgency
I think that's just us trying to make it happen and laying it all on the line. I think it's just trickled down to simply playing with heart and the want to and him [quarterback Teddy Bridgewater] really laying it all on the line to keep the chains going and trying to fight for that win.
RE: How Teddy Bridgewater diving for a first down galvanizes the team
Seeing your quarterback giving his all is going to make everybody else step it up a notch. You've got to really respect that because a lot of quarterbacks probably wouldn't put themselves out there to be that vulnerable in that situation, so you've got to really respect that.
RE: Offensive coordinator Joe Brady coaching from the sidelines instead of the booth
There was a lot more communication, obviously more than any other game because he's up there in the box so we don't really hear from him. We're more so hearing him through the coaches but not that much, so I think it was probably better for us because he's able to communicate what he's seeing after plays and just honing in on little details and things like that with him being down there.
RE: How the offense can push to get over the hump
Just being accountable for our mistakes and knowing that those things hurt us; knowing that if we eliminate those things, things go a lot smoother. Just not beating ourselves – it's as simple as that I feel.
S Sam Franklin
RE: Touchdown by Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill
I'm going to go ahead and just say that was on me – a miscommunication with my corners. I'm the deep middle guy. I've got to let them know if we're going zone or stay on the man. I just gave communication to one side and didn't get it to the other side in time. That's completely on me. I told my guys that I'm taking full responsibility for that.
RE: Why Travis Kelce was so difficult to stop today
They've got a great quarterback that places the ball in great positions. They do great things putting him in different spots so you can't really press him sometimes and he gets free releases. It was just a combined lot of things – the quarterback extending plays and him just finding open gaps and then him just running good routes too.
RE: Being close in games but not coming out with wins
It's us. We know this. Down the stretch, I think we had close to eight penalties or something like that. We just can't beat ourselves down the stretch during close games. We've just got to do better as a whole. We're not going to point fingers at any one guy and say it's his fault. It's all our fault. We've just got to be better as a team.
RE: Playing against Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
Defending him is completely hard because he's a guy that extends plays. They talk about, like his 40-time, but that doesn't really matter when you're out there on the field. He extends plays, he finds open guys, he can throw the ball to any part of the field. He makes the right reads. So he just does a combination of a lot of things you have to keep track of. Most pocket passer quarterbacks, if you get them off the spot, then they really aren't good on the run and can't really move. Patrick is a different beast. He can move up in the pocket and extend plays. He can throw the ball underhand, overhand, sidearm – there are just so many ways that he can attack you. Then with the athletes that they do have, it's like they're going to get open, they're going to make their plays. You've just got to try to limit them. In the first half, I felt like we were doing a great job. Andy [Reid], he's a great [play caller]. He's going to come in, switch things up. He's going to make it hard for us to keep defending him.
RE: His sack on Mahomes
I was the late guy that was supposed to be coming on the blitz. I did what I had to do. [Brian] Burns forced him up in the pocket and when he stepped up I just took my angle and I just wrapped up and was just holding on for the best.
RE: What this game says about the Panthers young defense
It shows us how good we are as a team. But we're not going to take being close as an achievement. We want to win and in this league, winning is the most important thing. That's what we came here to do today. We're not looking for any moral victories or anything like that. This just shows us that we are in a great position. Like I said earlier, if we just don't beat ourselves at the end and we're not one or two plays late, we can win that ball game. Those guys aren't the defending champs for nothing.
K Joseph Charlton
RE: His pass on the fake punt
Yeah, we went out there knowing – we call it [inaudible]. We have a check out of it but obviously we didn't. We got the look we wanted, we ran it and completed it so it was awesome.
RE: How many passes he's completed in a game and the execution of the play with the Chiefs pressure nearing
In a game, none. Never had the opportunity. I felt it coming but Zylstra was wide open and I got the ball to him. It was a good pass.
RE: Carolina's aggressiveness on special teams
Personally, I love it. I think it's good for our team and obviously it's not my forte to talk on that, but I personally like it.
RE: The wind on Joey Slye's field goal attempt at the end of the game
It was definitely a windy day, but we have the utmost confidence in Joey to hit that ball. I've seen him do it before. I think the whole team's confident in him hitting that. I think it was a good call.
RE: His thoughts on Slye's kick
I mean, I'm looking down at the ball, at the hold. It sounded good. Joey crushes the ball. Every ball that comes off his foot sounds like thunder.
RE: The longest kick he's seen Slye make
I'm pretty sure he lined up for a 70 one practice and hit it. Joey's got a strong, strong leg. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. He can hit a bomb.
K Joey Slye
RE: The final field goal attempt and the first onside kick
The 67(-yard attempt), I feel confident in myself that I'm able to make those kicks or at least have the leg strength for them. That one, we had a pretty heavy left-to-right wind, so the ball is going to tend to fade to the right. With the way the wind was blowing, it felt like there was wind in my face on that one, similar to what was on the 51(-yard attempt) – we had a right-to-left wind in my face so I was trying to mold those balls to play with the wind and find the right wind pattern and swing pattern. To be honest, it was pretty difficult today for me, so I definitely felt like I had the leg strength for it but trying to play back into that wind to let the ball fade back in to the middle of the post, it just got pushed right by the wind. It just kept staying right. Honestly, I didn't really see where the ball landed, just from all the chaos in front of me so I don't know if it had the leg or not, but I didn't put a ball that was on the field goal post. I take full credit for that. Obviously, the surprise onside [kick] we had worked on all week – we work on that all the time. I feel confident in it. I told Coach [Mattt] Rhule I feel good on it. I hit it and felt like it took a pretty heavy bounce on the turf, went right back up in the air. I was sitting right on the backside 10 so I was hoping to kind of shield it, let the ball roll right into me and be able to just jump right on it and I felt someone kind of hit me from behind and I kind of fell on the ball from there. So, I know I kind of hit it before it went 10 (yards) but we've got to be able to execute that kick and give our team an opportunity to steal a possession on special teams – that was one of our big keys this week. I let the team down in the aspect that I didn't execute my job. Coach Rhule had a great call for that, we got them right where we wanted to and I just need to execute at a better level than that.
RE: Being aggressive on special teams in recent games
In the beginning of the season when we were on those virtual calls, Coach Rhule put up a bunch of statistics about things like the turnover margin, the middle eight, shutouts in the fourth quarter, and some of those situations they put up were if you block a punt and certain situations like that. So, for us, we're trying to be aggressive on special teams. [Special teams coordinator] Chase [Blackburn] is doing an amazing job of just giving the team confidence that we can execute when called upon and that mentality is just starting to go throughout the team and the fact that, if we play aggressive and we go all out for certain situations, we'll give ourselves better opportunities to win the game. The percentages of us winning goes up. The fake punt we had last week gave our offense another opportunity to go out and score, the fake punt we had this week, again, gave our offense another opportunity to go down and score. I need to capitalize on the surprise onside [kick] to, again, give our offense another opportunity to score. We're playing the Kansas City Chiefs and they're known for a high-powered offense so any possession that we're able to steal or any opportunity that we're able to get more points than them, we need to take full advantage of and, like I said, today I lacked in that department and let my team down.
RE: Whether the wind changed throughout the game today
When you're coming into our tunnel, the wind stayed pretty predominantly left to right and then when you're facing away from our tunnel towards the big circular screen at Arrowhead, it was predominantly right to left. Now, when it was in our face, it was swirling a little bit, which is a little surprising with the dome of the stadium. I know Kansas City is used to a lot of wind and watching a lot of the games, you can see that a lot of kickers here are trying to mold that ball into the wind. But the direction was very right to left the entire game when we were facing the scoreboard and left to right when we were at our locker room, so I knew the balls that I needed to play but obviously with gusts and stuff like that, you really have to be elite in being able to hit the right ball.
RE: Whether he sacrifices accuracy the further back he lines up or if today had more to do with the wind
To be honest, with me it's sometimes difficult just because I do typically have a stronger leg, so sometimes I can swing and hit a ball clean enough that can kind of cut through the wind. So, the ball I hit on the 51(-yard attempt), I can't give up the post on the right side because if I hit a smooth ball through the wind and it dies down then I'm going to miss on the right side of that post. But then obviously, I hit the ball that I wanted to hit, had the right trajectory, had everything that I wanted, wind holds it up and puts it to its apex quicker and then the ball tends to get taken by the wind a lot quicker because that velocity's not climbing now, it's coming on the downslope so the ball starts fading. I'm still surprised that ball missed off that left upright, but there are just certain situations that you've got to play. You can see [Kansas City kicker] Harrison [Butker's] got a really, really strong leg and kind of seemed to have the same mentality that I had today of trying to mold that ball the way that he wants to. I even tried to capitalize on some of the pregame warm up watching him, seeing the lines that he might play and putting that in my back pocket because this is his home field and he's been kicking here a lot longer, so trying to find lines that he might play and stuff like that was my key going in. I felt like that was a great game plan, it's just execution is the biggest thing.
RE: His confidence in punter Joe Charlton's arm on the fake punt
Joe has a great arm. He's shown it off during practice. We have to execute at a high level during practice to give Coach [Rhule] confidence in those play calls as well, so I had confidence in Joe executing that game plan. He knew what he needed to do, he knew the check that he needed. Corn [Elder], as our PP, was able to make sure that we had the right defensive punt projections and stuff like that for the call and our punt team executed like we did all week, so it was no surprise that we were able to run the same play that we've repped hundreds of times already.
RE: Whether he's thrown a pass in a game before and whether he thinks he could
I have not thrown a pass in a game. I haven't gotten any fakes really even put onto my side when we hit field goals – I don't see a lot of fakes coming to me. I would like to run the ball instead of throw it. That would be my want and wishes. I've got smaller hands, so gripping the ball sometimes is not the best thing in the world. But I think I could execute if need be, but I'd rather just run the ball, take some hits and see if I can score that way. If I had a wide-open gap, I'd probably see if I could run over the defense and then just climb to the next level. That's probably why they don't give me fakes because I don't run it correctly – I'm trying to hit people. Maybe I need to change the way my mindset is on that, but we'll see if we run any fakes with the field goal unit this year.
Look at in-game photos from Carolina-Kansas City in Week 9.