Rivera tells Pan­thers to take break from foot­ball af­ter loss

The Sun News - - Sports - BY STEVE REED

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, 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 changes to the start­ing lineup.

Quar­ter­back Cam New­ton was sacked five times and threw a pick-six out of des­per­a­tion to avoid tak­ing a safety, 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 brought more pass rush­ers than the Pan­thers were able to block, of­ten re­sult­ing in 5-foot-11, 210-pound run­ning back Chris­tian McCaf­frey try­ing to pick up line­men who out­weighed him by al­most 100 pounds. That didn’t go well.

Rivera said the Steel­ers 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 pres­sure on Roeth­lis­berger. There were times he danced around in the pocket un­touched for nearly 10 sec­onds.

Rivera plans to con­tinue to ro­tate de­fen­sive line­men “un­til we find some­thing that clicks on the pass-rush side.”

JEFF SINER jsiner@char­lot­teob­server.com

Pan­thers quar­ter­back Cam New­ton (1) gets ham­mered by Steel­ers linebacker T.J. Watt on Thurs­day night.

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