Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera sent a clear message to his players Monday: Forget about Atlanta.
Rivera took only a couple questions during his news conference about his team’s uninspiring performance in a 22-10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday before saying he was done talking about it. Rather than allow a bad New Year’s Day football hangover to linger, the two-time NFL coach of the year told his players it is time to move on and turn their attention to next Sunday’s NFC wild card game at New Orleans.
“The big thing that we need to do more than anything else is to move forward and get past the game we just played,” Rivera said. “Right now that game isn’t going to do anything for us.”
The Panthers had plenty of momentum entering the regular season finale having won seven of their previous eight games.
Had Carolina beat Atlanta, they would have won the NFC South and had a home playoff game.
Now they’re limping into the postseason and likely will have to win three in a row on the road to reach the Super Bowl.
Cam Newton’s struggles in one of the worst games of his career could be cause for concern entering the postseason. Newton missed on his first eight passes against Atlanta, his throws often sailing high and wide of his intended targets and could never get on track. It hasn’t helped that the Panthers wide receiver position has been besieged by injuries, leaving Newton with a cast of no-name players .
One thing is for certain: Newton and the offense will need to be on its game Sunday against the Saints.
The Panthers (11-5) don’t appear to match up well with the Saints (11-5), particularly on defense where they’ve been unable to slow drew Brees and the NFC South champions.
New Orleans clobbered Carolina 34-13 in Charlotte in September, then beat them again 31-21 on Dec. 3 at the Superdome to take control of the NFC South.
The Washington Redskins have signed cornerback Quinton Dunbar to a multiyear deal. The team announced the contract Monday after finishing its season at 7-9. Dunbar was set to be a restricted free agent. Dunbar, 25, was a receiver at Florida and converted to cornerback during his first NFL training camp in 2015. He reached career highs with 15 games, four starts, 28 tackles and eight passes defensed this season. … Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees announced his retirement Monday following a successful NFL career that began with the New England Patriots. The 68-year-Pees told players of his decision on New Year’s Day, less than 24 hours after the Ravens were eliminated from playoff contention with a 31-27 loss to Cincinnati .