Rivera: It’s probably the best way to send Ryan and Pep off on their way.

Sports Xchange

Head coach Ron Rivera addresses media after Panthers' 33-14 victory over the Saints in the season finale.

(On getting a win) “It kind of cleansed it a little bit, going forward. The big questions that will linger for us is ‘What if? What if? What if?’ I get that part of it. To get off the schneid, I think, is pretty cool for the guys. It gives us the opportunity to head off into the offseason a little bit with their heads up. It’s probably the best way to send Ryan (Kalil) and Pepp (Julius Peppers) off on their way. (They are) two great Panthers. It’s kind of nice for them.”

(On the locker room experience following the last game for Kalil and Peppers) “The guys were really appreciative we won for them. They kind of took that sense and that feel, which is really cool. I have been fortunate that I’ve been around some guys when they have walked away from the game. I was around when Mike Singletary did it. That was a cool deal as well.”

(On winning today preventing the team from getting a higher draft pick) “It is not about draft picks. It is about winning and losing. That’s what it’s about. We didn’t come in here to lose and throw in the towel. We came in here to compete. Sure, they (Saints) had some guys that they didn’t play. That is beside the point. You still have to compete. That is the way we will always approach it as long as I am the coach. I just believe that that is the right way to do things. We are professionals, and we come here to do our job.”

(On QB Kyle Allen) “He showed us that he is capable. He is a young man that has some growing and has some things to learn, but I do think that he is a guy that is going to come in and compete and give us everything that he has.”

(On Allen’s steady approach) “He is one of those guys that can take a moment and make it what it is. Some guys get moments like that and seem to blow it out of proportion. Kyle always seems to have that same, steady approach. I appreciate that. The moment just never seems to get too big for him; and, I think one thing that we have to understand about a lot of these young players coming out of college football, especially quarterbacks, is that a lot of these guys are throwing it 40-50 times a game. When you throw the ball that many times, you are put under a tremendous amount of pressure. With all of the scrutiny they get, too, in the media, I think they are really learning how to deal with and cope with those things. That’s why you see guys like Baker Mayfield having the type of year that he’s having. You see guys that seem to get it a lot sooner than (in the past).”

(On Allen’s pocket-presence) “That is exactly what I saw. I thought that he had a tremendous amount of poise. I don’t think that he made the moment bigger than it was. I thought that he took it for what it was, and that was an opportunity to go out and play. One of the things that we talked about last night as a group, several of the guys talked about opportunity, opportunity. In fact, one of the guys mentioned Kyle’s opportunity. I thought that was really cool that the teammates were thinking about those things.”

(On why Devin Funchess didn’t play) “It was just a decision that I made going forward.”

(On his thoughts on the Saints’ offensive performance) “That would be unfair to do because they didn’t play Drew (Brees) and they didn’t play Alvin (Kamara). I do appreciate the way that our guys played hard and came out and fought. To do that (make comments about the Saints), would be very unfair to them. I know what Coach Payton is capable of as a play caller. I know who Drew Brees is and the rest of that offense, so I just think that they are the #1 seed in the NFC for a reason.”


Game Day