Rivera tells Pan­thers to get away from foot­ball

The Island Packet - - Sports - BY STEVE REED As­so­ci­ated Press

Pan­thers coach Ron Rivera wants his play­ers to get away from foot­ball, just for a lit­tle while.

A day af­ter a hu­mil­i­at­ing 52-21 loss to the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers, Carolina’s eighth-year coach said it may just be what the Pan­thers need.

“Some­times the best medicine is to for­get about it and then come back ready to roll,” Rivera said Fri­day, adding that they should fo­cus on some­thing other than foot­ball.

That ad­vice doesn’t ap­ply to Rivera and his coach­ing staff.

Rivera said coaches will spend the next few days pour­ing over game film, look­ing for so­lu­tions and mak­ing ad­just­ments, par­tic­u­larly on the of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive lines where the Pan­thers were over­whelmed by the Steel­ers in the road loss. The coach wouldn’t say if he’s con­sid­er­ing any changes to the start­ing lineup.

Quar­ter­back Cam New­ton was sacked five times and threw a cru­cial pick-six out of des­per­a­tion to avoid tak­ing a safety in the end zone, while the de­fense never was able to stop Ben Roeth­lis­berger, who turned in a per­fect QB rat­ing (158.3) af­ter throw­ing for 328 yards and five touch­downs. The 52 points al­lowed tied the most in fran­chise his­tory.

The Pan­thers (6-3) are still in good shape in the NFC play­off pic­ture, but Rivera ex­pressed con­cern know­ing the NFL is a copy­cat league and up­com­ing op­po­nents will look to sim­u­late what the Steel­ers did against them.

“It is a beg, bor­row and steal league,” Rivera said. “Guys are go­ing to look at this tape and see what (the Steel­ers) did and have an­swers. We as coaches, as I said, are not done eval­u­at­ing tape and go­ing through it and try­ing to cor­rect things.”

Pitts­burgh’s de­fense brought more pass rush­ers than the Pan­thers were able to block, of­ten re­sult­ing in 5-foot-11, 210-pound run­ning back Chris­tian Mc­Caf­frey des­per­ately try­ing to pick up line­men who out­weighed him by al­most 100 pounds. That didn’t go well.

Rivera said the Steel­ers de­fense threw some new looks at Carolina’s re­vamped of­fen­sive line and the guys up front didn’t rec­og­nize or ad­just to them.

“Some­times you see things for the first time, things that they do a lit­tle dif­fer­ently, with a lit­tle twist to them, it makes things dif­fi­cult,” Rivera said. “We have to be able to han­dle those things. We have to stick to

our rules, our base fun­da­men­tals.”

Mean­while, Carolina’s de­fense failed to gen­er­ate much of any pres­sure on Roeth­lis­berger. There were times he danced around in the pocket un­touched for nearly 10 sec­onds.

Rivera said that has to change.

He plans to con­tinue to ro­tate de­fen­sive line­men in and out of the lineup “un­til we find some­thing that clicks on the pass rush side.”

Carolina’s sta­dium was no­tice­ably quiet and somber on a dark, gray af­ter­noon.

Af­ter what he called a “very hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence to be beat the way we were,” Rivera still gave play­ers four days off – as pre­vi­ously planned be­fore the game – be­gin­ning Fri­day. They’ll re­turn to prac­tice Tues­day to be­gin prepa­ra­tions for the Nov. 18 game at Detroit.

For some, that wasn’t by choice.

Tight end Greg Olsen said af­ter the game Thurs­day night that he wishes the Pan­thers had a four­day week this week and he could get back on the field to wash this loss out of their mouths in­stead of wait­ing 10 days for the next game.

“We just got thor­oughly beaten in a game that we were look­ing for­ward to, a game that we thought we could re­ally mea­sure our­selves against one of the bet­ter teams in the league,” Olsen said.

“We got that an­swer. We got a lot of work to do.”


Steel­ers lineback­ers Bud Dupree (48) and Jon Bos­tic team up to sack Pan­thers quar­ter­back Cam New­ton.

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