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 ...