Super Bowl goat? Panthers don't view Remmers as that guy
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the idea of labelling right tackle Mike Remmers as a Super Bowl goat is completely absurd.
Sure, Remmers got beat twice on the edge by Von Miller last February, resulting in a pair of strip-sacks against Cam Newton that led to 15 points in a 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
And yes, Miller was honored as the game's MVP, while Remmers was left answering questions about his inability to block one of the NFL's best pass rushers.
But Rivera has staunchly defended Remmers, saying the criticism is ''unwarranted.''
''People didn't understand what we were trying to do in terms of our protection,'' Rivera said.
Rivera said the Panthers coaches and players ''made some mistakes across the board'' but ''to blame it on one guy and finger-point without really knowing is very unfair.''
Remmers, who is back as the team's starting right tackle this season, doesn't like to talk about the game saying it took him about 24 hours to put the loss behind him.
''I'm not worried about that at all,'' Remmers said. ''It's a new season, a new beginning, a new everything.''
The big question is where does Remmers go from here - will he be able to bounce back and have a great career, or will he forever be haunted by the memory of allowing two sacks on the game's biggest stage?
Remmers isn't the first player to struggle in the Super Bowl, of course.
Hall of Fame tight end Jackie Smith retired after dropping a key pass in the end zone from Roger Staubach in Dallas' Super Bowl 13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Buffalo's Scott Norwood only played one more season with the Bills after his potential game-winning field goal from 47 yards infamously sailed ''wide right'' against the New York Giants, beginning a string of four straight Super Bowl losses for the Bills.
And Oakland Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon never completely recovered from his five-interception performance against Tampa Bay in Super Bowl 37.
All of those players were near the tail end of their NFL careers anyway.
Remmers is different.
He's 27 and viewed as a key cog in Carolina's highly regarded offensive line.
General manager Dave Gettleman is quick to point out the Panthers are 22-4 since Remmers took over as their starting right tackle late in the 2014 season.
That's one of the reasons he didn't attempt to replace Remmers this offseason, instead signing him to a one-year restricted free agent tender of $2.5 million.
It's easy to forget that two weeks before the Super Bowl the Panthers racked up 49 points against the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC championship game behind a dominant performance by their offensive line. Or that Carolina finished second in the league in rushing and first in scoring in 2015.
''I have absolute confidence in Mike Remmers,'' Rivera said. ''I've got no issue with Mike Remmers.''
He has the support of his teammates, too.
Five-time Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil said the Panthers are a better team with Remmers at right tackle. Kalil's brother, Matt, plays left tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, so he knows just how difficult it is to be left ''on an island.''
''Listen, Mike is a big reason for our success last year,'' Kalil said in defense of his teammate. ''Football is a team game so a lot of time people like to highlight players and look for scapegoats on certain things. So by no means is it one guy's fault for winning or losing a football game.''
Remmers said he's continued to work on his technique and getting better.
He's leaned on the support of his wife, Kelly, and his teammates. He's also entered a new phase of life, becoming a father in the offseason, which has helped put things in perspective.
Norwood told the Buffalo News earlier this year that his missing the field goal against the Giants was ''like when I think about my parents and when they died. People always say time will take care of that. I don't think it really does.''
Remmers doesn't seem to be letting it affect him the same way. Perhaps he feels there is just too much football left to play in his young career.
''I can learn from every game,'' Remmers said. ''If you stop learning, you stop playing.''
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