Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Monday in a news conference he was “embarrassed” by Carolina’s 30-3 loss to Tennessee Sunday, and particularly by a couple of things. (Here's my column on what he said -- the shorter version is below).
“Oh absolutely, I was embarrassed,” Rivera said. “I really was. I was embarrassed with the penalties. I was embarrassed the last 2 ½ minutes of the game, the way it went.”
When I asked what he meant by that, Rivera said: “Well, I think all the chippiness that went on between both teams. You know when a game is in that situation, just play it out. Don’t start talking. If you’re winning, great. If you’re losing, stop being frustrated. Do your job. And it goes for both teams. And I don’t want to speak for Coach [Mike] Munchak [of Tennessee], but I think both teams got chippy at the end.
“To me, this is professional football,” Rivera continued. “Act like a professional on the football field whether you’re winning or you’re losing. And that really bothers me. It really does. Because this game is about competition and competing and being the best, it’s not about all that other stuff that goes on. That’s a bunch of bull. It really is. There should be more pride in winning and losing than I saw yesterday from both teams. And that’s just my opinion.”
The Panthers got called for three penalties in the game’s last two minutes and Tennessee was called for two. On the final penalty – a holding call against Steve Smith – a scuffle broke out that involved Smith and several other players from both teams. Rivera then pulled Smith out of the game for the final play. (Smith would later get testy with me when I asked him about this sequence in the postgame locker room).
“I just think Steve was frustrated, as was everybody else,” Rivera said. “Steve went to make a physical block, the guy reacted and they got into a little bit of a skirmish. I just wanted to alleviate the situation. I’d have done that to anybody at that point. I did that with Charles [Johnson] when Charles got his penalty [earlier in the game]. After being head-butted, the referees didn’t see the head butt [on Johnson], they got him…. We can’t have that on the football field. And I hope our guys understand why I asked them to come off the field.”
The Panthers were penalized 12 times for 99 yards in the game and remain among the league leaders in the major “most-penalized” categories.