The Carolina Panthers lost at home to the San Francisco 49ers 23-10 on Sunday and were eliminated from the playoffs. The Panthers’ inability to score from the goal line may have been the difference in the game, but coach Ron Rivera is not second-guessing their play-calling in those situations.
“We believe in what we do,” Rivera said after the game via the Charlotte Observer. “I’m not going to second-guess anything that we did, this year or before. We’re going to learn from it.”
The Panthers were first stuffed at the goal line on their second drive of the game. They were down 6-0 at the time and had three shots at scoring from inside the three but were unable to convert. They tried a run with Cam Newton that gained two yards, then a handoff to Mike Tolbert that was stuffed, and then they went for it on 4th-and-1 instead of kicking a field goal. Cam Newton came up short on his QB sneak attempt, keeping the score at 6-0.
The Panthers ended up getting their touchdown after forcing a 49ers punt from the 3, returning it to the 31, and throwing a TD pass on their first play to go up 7-6, so all worked out well. But after scoring their touchdown, the Panthers were stuffed again.
Carolina had a 2nd-and-1 at the San Francisco 1-yard line while up 7-6. They were unable to get the touchdown and settled for a 24-yard field goal to go up 10-6. They didn’t score any more points for the rest of the game.
“You get the ball on the 1, you’ve got to figure out how to score,” Panthers offensive tackle Jordan Gross said. “They stopped us two different times down there. We’re normally a very good goal line, short-yardage team, and we weren’t today. That was a big, big part of why we lost.”
It sure is. The momentum for the game may have drastically changed had the Panthers gone up 14-6 instead of 10-6. But they were stopped twice, and that’s a big reason why the 49ers are moving on.
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