Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints ● Sunday, January 1, 2012
CAROLINA PANTHERS COACH RON RIVERA
(on how the team fell behind in the second half) "It takes the wind out of your sail for them to come out and do what they did and for us to blow the coverage (at the end of the half). (We) allowed a receiver (to get) behind us in the two minute drill with 17 seconds left. That can't happen. That is unacceptable."
(on the blown coverage) "The quarterback (Brees) started to move around and we got a little nosy. The truth of the matter is that when the quarterback starts to move around, you need to (stay deeper a little more). It's an experience thing. There's a young guy out there in his second season. He got a little bit nosy. The truth of the matter is that when the quarterback scrambles, you (want to) deepen (the coverage). You're a deep-outside player, you want to keep everything in front of you."
(on the Saints) "That's a playoff-caliber football team that did that to us today."
(on playing without key defensive players) "It was really disappointing, especially the way that they ran the ball more so than anything else. They were able to do some things that we hadn't allowed the last five weeks. That's what was disappointing. I thought that if we were going to do anything, make them one-dimensional. I'm not sure if that's a good thing either, because they can throw the ball well. We should not have allowed that type of running game. Hats off to them and their offensive line."
(on Saints running game) "They ran the ball very well. They mixed it up very nicely and broke some tackles. It goes back to what their offensive line was doing up front. They were making some holes."
(on message to the team) "We talked about the whole season. The message was that everything we do from here on out is all about next year. It's about that first NFL Sunday in September. We'll have our meeting tomorrow and I will give them the last final message. Then, they will be off."
(on message to Cam Newton) "I don't think that I necessarily need to give him a message. I think that he understands exactly what he needs to do. He's special. The truth of the matter is that there are certain instances and certain areas that we (as a team and staff) have to catch up. We can be a very, very good football team. That's just it. I really believe that. We, as a group, need to grow to become a complete team"
(on the Saints) "We caught a football team that is on a roll right now. When you put the tape on and watch how they played against Atlanta and watch how they played against us and the first thing that you say to yourself is, "I hope that we don't have to play them." That's what's going to happen. Whoever is playing them is playing a very good football team on a hot roll right now. They are going to have a lot of momentum going forward."
CAROLINA PANTHERS PLAYERS
Quarterback Cam Newton
"I have to work hard both mentally and physically to be a better quarterback. But for us today, it was embarrassing how we ended that game. Offense, defense, special teams, the whole nine yards, it was real tough."
"It's still a learning process for me. I mean I learned so much the entire season. I can do so many things better. I have so much respect for this league that a lot of people don't understand what it takes to be a player in the National Football League – let alone the quarterback."
(On his first half interception) "We were all the way down there below the five yard line about to score. The play we called was for Steve Smith. We were trying to get him open as we saw on film that the Saints use a lot of help off the safeties. And Steve is such a presence out there and that's a good and bad thing. And I threw it up there and their safety broke on the ball quick. I was thought to throw it to his (Smiths') initial move. But them Steve broke the other way and the ball was already in the air and that was it. Again we were all the way down there and about to score and we didn't. And you can't let that happen against the type of good team we played today."
Cornerback R.J. Stanford
"It was definitely a challenge for us out there today but the bottom line was we just didn't play very well. The only thing we did do well defensively was stop them on the interception. But the Saints are a high powered offense and we just didn't stop them today; especially in the second half."
Wide Receiver Steve Smith
"We took their best shot and gave it a try. But its all about how you finish and that's something we just didn't do today. Time will tell for us. We have a lot of young guys on this team and now it's all about how hard we work in the off season and our attitude when we come back for training camp next year. "
"Today was a real tough day. I thought all of us here in the locker room really worked hard the last five games and we saw the results on the field. It's all about how hard you prepare and work. So today's loss was real tough to take from a great team."
Tight End Jeremy Shockey
"We are definitely a better team than we showed today. We tried our best but the Saints were the better team today. So my hats off to them and even I expect good things from them in the playoffs."
"Anytime you play a divisional opponent in the NFC South it's always a tough game. There's always a lot at stake and it's always about how you start the game. I think we did great in the first half."
"Of course it was a little odd to come back here and play. But hey, they've moved on, I've moved on – and that's what this league is all about. It's just how it is; you move onto the next team and the next game."
Running Back Jonathan Stewart
"We can't use the injuries we had over the year as an excuse. We have a lot of quality players on this football team and we have to work hard in the off-season to come back and have a better season next year."