Posted October 14, 2013 on
AP on Fox
Ron Rivera said he's not turned into a riverboat gambler.
But the Panthers third-year head coach said he's learning that winning football games means sometimes means stepping out of his comfort zone and taking a few risks.
Those risks were rewarded on Sunday.
Rivera, a former defensive coordinator who tends to be conservative by nature, stepped out on a limp Sunday by going for it on fourth and 1 twice on Carolina's opening drive. The result was a touchdown that set the tone for Carolina's 35-10 rout of Minnesota - and possibly ushered in an era of a new, more aggressive Rivera.
''Sometimes you play by the book and you miss opportunities,'' Rivera said.
Rivera said he purposely made a concerted effort to be aggressive in his game decisions on Sunday in the red zone, saying the Panthers (2-3) can no longer afford to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. He said part of that was playing on the road in a hostile environment against what he felt was a potentially explosive Vikings offense.
''As a defensive coordinator you look at it one way and then putting on the hat of a head coach you have to look at it from a different perspective,'' Rivera said. ''And it's something that I've kind of grown into.''
Or rather, something he's growing into.
Rivera was criticized for his decision in week two to not go for a fourth and 1 late in Buffalo territory with the Panthers leading by three.
He settled for a field goal and the Bills drove the length of the field to win the game 24-23 on a last-second touchdown pass by EJ Manuel.
A different Rivera showed up at the Metrodome on Sunday.
The Panthers were aggressive all day and never let the Vikings establish any momentum.
Cam Newton and his teammates said a big reason was Rivera's decision to go for it on separate fourth and 1 situations from the Vikings 32 and 2.
''For him to trust us means a lot and it speaks volumes,'' quarterback Cam Newton said after the game. ''He is a defensive coach by nature, so he always has that conservative mentality. But I think that he is kind of breaking his mold to a degree, and giving the whole team confidence with him.''
Newton followed up perhaps his worst game as a professional at Arizona with what Rivera called ''one of his best two or three games'' of his career against the Vikings, throwing for 242 yards and three touchdowns while running for 30 yards and another score.
Panthers guard Travelle Wharton said Monday he believes the decisions gave the offense a needed jolt of confidence.
''I was excited,' Wharton said. ''As an offensive lineman you live for those challenges to go for it, pick up the first down and keep the drive rolling.''
Rivera said he plans to continue to coach more aggressively, a philosophy that has Newton and his teammates excited moving forward.
The Panthers host the St. Louis Rams (3-3) on Sunday.
''II's been an enlightening situation for me and one of the things I want to try to do is make sure we're in the best position to win,'' Rivera said.
When a reporter asked Rivera about being dubbed ''Riverboat Ron,'' he chuckled and said, ''No, that's not a gamble. It's what I believe is a calculated attempt.''
Rivera means it.
He has a checklist of 32 things he looks at before every game ranging from where the game is being played to who they're playing, how they're moving the ball and whether they're supposed to win the game or not.
Rivera said in the past most of his approach leaned toward being more conservative by nature when it came to going for it on fourth down.
''Obviously my attitude has changed on a few of those points,'' Rivera said.
AP NFL website www.pro32.ap.org
Follow Steve Reed on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SteveReedAP
BEST OF MAXIM
Cam Newton’s passer rating is 78.4 which is 25th in the NFL behind EJ Manuel and in front of Matt Schaub. ESPN’s more extensive Total Quarterback Rating drops Newton to 28th behind Schaub and in front of Eli Manning.
Frustrated fans of the Carolina Panthers criticize Newton more harshly than they have since 2011 when broadcaster and former coach Jon Gruden asked Newton terminology...
MINNEAPOLIS The Carolina Panthers were sympathetic to Adrian Peterson's grief. They weren't going to take it easy on him, though.
Peterson's tumultuous week ended with a quiet Sunday because the Panthers made all the noise.
Cam Newton threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score, and the Panthers romped past the mourning running back and the Minnesota Vikings...
The good Cam Newton showed up Sunday and the Panthers followed their quarterback's lead to an easy win.
A week after taking a beating and losing four turnovers in a loss at Arizona Newton accounted for four touchdowns Sunday as the Panthers blew out the Vikings 35-10 before an unhappy crowd at the Metrodome.
In their two victories against the Giants (0-6) and Vikings (1-4)...
Carolina Panthers running back Mike Tolbert scored a touchdown on Sunday and opted to do some spanking.
H/T: The Big Lead
Those who were not impressed with the dancing of Brandon Jacobs now have to endure this….
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton collided with Fox sideline reporter Laura Okmin, but then saved the day by keeping her on her feet.
The Vikings are concentrating on stopping QB Cam Newton, but to do that they have to contain WR Steve Smith and that hasn’t happened often for them. Plus, an extensive look at the team and individual rankings for the Vikings and Panthers.
As the final seconds ticked down, Cam Newton walked across the field to find Adrian Peterson and offered a warm embrace.
It was a moment of comfort for Peterson, who was playing two days after his 2-year-old son was killed in an alleged case of child abuse in South Dakota.
Newton also comforted some anxious Carolina Panthers fans on Sunday with a performance more fitting of the...
Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (ankles) is eligible to come off the PUP list in Week 7, but that decision isn't confirmed.Fantasy Spin:When Stewart returns he will cut into DeAngelo Williams' carries and make both players useless for fantasy purposes. Whether that is in Week 7 or later is still up in the air at this time.
Panthers rookie running back Kenjon Barner (ankle) is inactive for Week 6 against Minnesota.Fantasy Spin:DeAngelo Williams should be a workhorse running back as he has been all season
With a little over two minutes left in the first half of last week’s matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, the Carolina Panthers and head coach Ron Rivera faced a 4th and 1. Rivera, who passed up a chip shot field goal with the game knotted at three apiece, wanted a first down.From the Arizona 15-yard-line, quarterback Cam Newton grabbed the snap and nailed wide receiver Brandon...
Let's all thank Greg Hardy for making it OK to never trust anything he says ever again.
Hardy, a defensive end for the Carolina Panthers, scoffed at a reporter's question about whether he would beat Miami Heat forward LeBron James in a one-on-one basketball game. Hardy respectfully declined to challenge the supremacy of the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player and admitted...
Mike Shula came into this season as a man and a coach who had something to prove and this could be the last chance he has to prove it. But this post is not about Mike Shula, well not completely. It is more about his play calling since taking over as team offensive coordinator. To put it technically... it sucked.We have what has to be considered one of the top backfields in the NFL...
The Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings will meet on Sunday in a match-up of two teams with 1-3 records.
Both the Panthers and Vikings had visions of the playoffs when the season began and thus each has only shown a glimmer of the team that analysts pegged them to be when Week 1 kicked off.
Coverage of the game between the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings...
Get ready for one of the most ridiculous stories you'll ever read.
Greg Hardy, a Carolina Panthers defensive end, told the Charlotte Observer he can beat LeBron James in a game of one-on-one. Yes, you're reading that correctly.
Here's what he had to say:
Q: If you went 1-on-1 with LeBron who would win?
A: How should I answer this question? ...I...
Photos from the Vikings' 35-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Minneapolis