It was a disappointing end to a great season:
"It's hard as a person, it's hard as a man, it's hard as an individual, it's hard as whatever you want to call yourself when you put so much into it and you don't get the production that you want out of it," Newton said. "I had a coach tell me right after the game, 'It's a bad ending to a great season,' and he was right."
What was disappointing for me was first that we let the refs and the 49ers get in our head and knock us out of our game. I thought this team was more mature than that and I'm sure Rivera tried to prevent it from happening but it happened regardless.
The second was our inability to score in the red zone when we had been exceptional at it all season. Newton explains:
Cam Newton's failures in red zone costly - Carolina Panthers Blog - ESPN
In the break between the first and second quarters, faced with fourth-and-goal from the San Francisco 49ers' 1-yard line, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton came to the sidelines and told coach Ron Rivera he could score on a sneak. "I put a lot of pressure on him to call the play," Newton said after Carolina's 23-10 loss in an NFC divisional playoff game Sunday. "He put it in my hands to call it. The play didn't work out the way it was planned, so I felt as if I failed him in that type of way.''
So we can't blame Shula for that one unless you think Shula should have ignored his QB. In spite of the poor decision to run the sneak Newton again is saying the right things in the face of a tough loss.
Cam Newton: 'Playoff football is a different speed' - NFL.com
"When you put two great football teams on the field at the same time, there are going to be a couple things that stick out and are the difference-makers," Newton said, per the team's official website. "We had a great game plan, but as players we have to be better. "I'm not pointing anybody out, but we have to play smart football, we have to execute, we have to accept the task at hand and make the most of it," he said. "Playoff football is a different speed than regular season. I learned that firsthand today. You have to seize the moment when the moment allows."
Most of the Panthers are taking the loss in stride and want to come back year to take it to the next level.
Captain Munnerlyn of Carolina Panthers wants long-term deal - ESPN
"We've got something special going. I know the guys in the secondary, there's a lot of us up. People call us the 'Legion of Whom,' but man, I wouldn't trade those guys for anybody in the world, for anybody."
I'd still like to add a name or two to the secondary. I'm all for Munny coming back though. This next guy I'm not so sure:
Panthers don't survive emotional day
"It's the playoffs. They've got to let us play," said cornerback Drayton Florence, the victim of a pass interference penalty that gave the 49ers a new set of downs in the waning seconds of the first half that resulted in a touchdown and a 13-10 lead. "Obviously that wasn't the case, but you've got to adjust your game to the way they're calling it."
Come on Drayton you really needed to get your head turned on that one.
After ripping a reporter for asking him who he is pulling for next Sunday (neither he said) Smitty said he thought he surprised the 49ers:
Steve Smith rips reporter after Carolina Panthers' loss - NFL.com
"I surprised some of y'all," Smith said of his first half, per The Charlotte Observer. "I think I surprised them a bit. ... I listened to everything (the trainers) told me to do and did it. I did it with enthusiasm so I could be out here to help my team win and to put us in the best situation. That was my job and I felt like that I did it."
No doubt he did all he could. That TD catch was a beauty!
Now to the less intelligent analysis of the game. This author fails to tell us where the 49ers actually 'outwitted' the Panthers:
Niners outwit Panthers with second-half adjustments - NFL.com
Four second-half sacks and eight hits on Newton were the product of a talented defense that settled in and picked on a young Panthers team making its first postseason appearance in half a decade. The 49ers don't run an exotic scheme, but what they do, they do well because of Fangio's leadership and experience in the crucible of January games. After Newton completed 8 of 10 passes at 13.6 yards per attempt over the first two quarters, Cam and the Panthers were badgered and shut out the rest of the way.
No mention of focusing on the stopping the read option or the blitzes they used to get pressure. Nor the doubling of Smith. Lazy writing in my view. If you are going to make a statement like that you should at least try to back it up with analysis instead of just pointing the results.
Now some fan over-reaction:
Ron Rivera: After Loss to 49ers, Panthers HC Should Be Fired
What a bizarre, yet telling statistic there. Rivera gets extra time to prepare and he loses — every single time. What does that say about crunch time? Key games? Big, important games that can start a fire within a team and strike momentum within a team? It says that Rivera fails in those situations. With the inability to win following extra time of preparation, how will the Panthers ever advance in the postseason under a head coach like that? They can’t win a home opener. They can’t win following a bye week — an incredibly important point in the season where teams get a chance to make a statement heading into the remainder of the season.
Yes I get that Rivera hasn't won a game for us after a bye week but how exactly does that make him a bad coach after only 4 such games? He always couldn't win close games either...until he did. I find it as nothing more than a coincidence lsoing after the bye unless you can point to something tangible.
Here's a better explanation:
San Francisco 49ers beat Carolina Panthers to advance to NFC Championship Game - NFL News | FOX Sports on MSN
"We had to get settled down," Kaepernick said. "We came out, they did some unorthodox things against us. We settled down, we got into our rhythm, we started making plays."
The 49ers made the plays they needed to make and the Panthers didn't. Game over.