2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Rivera: Big win over Giants can serve as catalyst

By STEVE REED - AP Sports Writer
    2013-09-23 15:23

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Carolina's 38-0 rout of the New York Giants on Sunday could serve as a ``catalyst'' for his team.

There certainly is that potential after Carolina's disappointing 0-2 start.

Not only is the Panthers' confidence soaring following the most lopsided win in the franchise's 19-year-history, but the they have a favorable schedule coming up after this week's bye.

Beginning next week, the Panthers have a four-game stretch that includes Arizona (1-2), Minnesota (0-3), St. Louis (1-2) and Tampa Bay (0-3).

The Panthers don't play a team with a winning record until they host New England on Nov. 18.

``You look for something that can be a hallmark game, a game that everyone points to and says 'Wow, that's the one that got things rolling,''' Rivera said at a press conference Monday.

Ron Rivera said now the big challenge is not losing that momentum with the players getting four straight days off beginning Thursday and coming back hungry next week.

``We have to be realistic because we've not arrived by any stretch of the imagination,'' Rivera said. ``We have to approach each week as a learning situation, a growing situation and keep shooting for the top of the mountain.''

The win was a big one for Rivera, whose hot seat might have gotten a lot hotter had the Panthers lost.

But the attitude around the stadium changed almost overnight following the huge win.

And while it can be said the victory came against a winless Giants team that appears in disarray offensively, wide receiver Steve Smith said he could care less.

``Some people are going to try and discount the win and say, `It's a win against team that wasn't very good,''' Smith said. ``We played a team that was struggling and we did what was necessary, so that was good.''

It might be tough for the Panthers to match their performance on Sunday moving forward.

After squandering fourth quarter leads in losses to Buffalo and Seattle the first two weeks, the Panthers left no doubt about this one completely dominating the Giants in every phase of the game.

The Greg Hardy-led defense sacked Eli Manning seven times, forced three turnovers and pitched a shutout. The offense scored five touchdowns, rolled up 402 total yards and tallied 27 first downs.

Cam Newton was special, throwing for three touchdowns and running for another in his best game of the season.

Newton said it was far from a perfect performance but added the win gives the Panthers an ``ego boost'' and some needed ``swagger'' after two tough losses.

``For us this is just one step,'' Newton said. ``We have to keep going and get the mentality of `We can win - and we will win.'''

Newton's swagger was certainly back and his teammates took notice.

``Cam was outstanding,'' offensive tackle Jordan Gross said. ``When he's on and leading the team the way he's supposed to, then we're tough to stop.''

What's encouraging for the Panthers moving forward is they played their best defensive game despite being without four starters on defense and missing four defensive backs.

Free safety Charles Godfrey was lost to a season-ending injury the previous week, cornerback Josh Thomas (concussion) and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (thigh) were injured, and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott benched struggling three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jon Beason for Chase Blackburn.

But the Panthers showed they have depth - and a pretty darn good front seven.

``We know exactly what we've got to do to keep winning,'' said safety Robert Lester, who went from practice squad player last week to starting against the Giants. ``That's the mindset we're going to keep, that's the mindset we're going to have going into the bye week and to the following week at Arizona.''

Despite the momentum gained by the win, Rivera said the bye week comes at a good time.

He's anxious to get several players back on the field and allow some others to get healthier when the Panthers return to face the Cardinals on Oct. 6.

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AP NFL website www.pro32.ap.org

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Follow Steve Reed on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SteveReedAP

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Pierre ThomasOct 30 07:22p

New Orleans Saints RBs Khiry Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (shoulder) are both inactive in Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Oct. 30.

David HawthorneOct 30 07:12p

The New Orleans Saints have declared LB Austin Johnson, LB David Hawthorne, C Jonathan Goodwin, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Nick Toon, RB Pierre Thomas, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste inactive for Week 9.

Amini SilatoluOct 30 07:12p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Amini Silatolu, CB Bene Benwikere, OT Byron Bell, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Philly Brown, FS Thomas DeCoud, OG Trai Turner inactive for Week 9.

Brandon BrownerOct 30 04:32p

New England Patriots DT Alan Branch (non-injury related) and DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Nate Ebner (finger), DL Dominique Easley (knee), OL Cameron [ More ]

Brandon ThompsonOct 30 04:22p

Cincinnati Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard (hamstring), LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring) and OG Kevin Zeitler (calf) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DT Domata Peko (toe) and OT Andre Smith [ More ]

Dwight FreeneyOct 30 04:22p

San Diego Chargers LB Manti Te'o (foot), CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) and S Jahleel Addae (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring) was limited. CB [ More ]

Donald BrownOct 30 04:12p

San Diego Chargers RB Donald Brown (concussion) practiced fully Thursday, Oct. 30.

Terrell SuggsOct 30 04:02p

Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Campanaro (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (foot) and LB Terrell Suggs (neck) all did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OG Marshal Yanda (knee) [ More ]

Brett KeiselOct 30 03:52p

Pittsburgh Steelers DE Brett Keisel (non-injury), SS Troy Polamalu (non-injury) and SS Ross Ventrone (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Ike Taylor (forearm) and FS [ More ]

Bruce CarterOct 30 03:22p

Dallas Cowboys LB Bruce Carter (finger) suffered a broken ring finger during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, but expects to play in Week 9. He will wear a splint on his finger for protection.

Cullen JenkinsOct 30 03:12p

New York Giants DT Cullen Jenkins (calf) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back, hamstring) and P Steve Weatherford (ankle) were both limited in practice.

Brandon BoykinOct 30 03:12p

Philadelphia Eagles FS Nate Allen (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. TE Brent Celek (back) and WR Brad Smith (groin) were both limited in practice. CB [ More ]

D'Qwell JacksonOct 30 03:12p

Indianapolis Colts LB D'Qwell Jackson (toe), DT Arthur Jones (ankle), LB Erik Walden (quadriceps) and LB Josh McNary (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Vontae [ More ]

Rashad JenningsOct 30 02:42p

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Jordan CameronOct 30 02:32p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Anthony CollinsOct 30 02:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Oniel Cousins is working at left tackle with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, because OT Anthony Collins (foot) is sitting out practice.

Doug MartinOct 30 02:22p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Jason VerrettOct 30 01:52p

San Diego Chargers CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) is expected to miss two to three weeks with a torn labrum, according to two sources.

DeAngelo WilliamsOct 30 01:52p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle) will start the team's Week 9 game against the New Orleans Saints Thursday, Oct. 30, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 01:42p

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Jaylen WatkinsOct 30 01:32p

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Giovani BernardOct 30 01:22p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, shoulder) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

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Trent RichardsonOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) is participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Reggie WayneOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (elbow) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

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Dallas ThomasOct 30 11:43a

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Charles Sims could have 10 or more touches in Week 9, in the opinion of beat writer Greg Auman.

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