Coach Rivera: It's a four-quarter game

Head coach Ron Rivera discusses difficult start that Panthers can't overcome in 23-17 loss at Washington.

On the fourth quarter:

"Well, actually a tough beginning of the game. Turn the ball over that way and it’s going to be tough to win a football game. They took advantage of a couple mistakes we made, and it cost us at the end. I thought our guys played good down the stretch but it’s a four-quarter game. When you don’t play well in the first quarter and the half, you make it harder on yourself, and we did. We as coaches go back and evaluate this, make sure we’re putting these guys in position to have success."

On if he can break down what he saw with the last three offensive plays:

"Well, not necessarily. Again, we had some opportunities. You make your breaks. We didn’t get any breaks on those, so that’s part of it."

On if QB Cam Newton was hit on the interception:

"Yes, his right arm. It is unfortunate. We had a double move on that and we had a step on the corner. If he could have put that ball out there, who knows what happens at that point."

On if he thought about going for it on fourth-and-one on the opening drive:

"Fourth-and-one on our side of the 50? No. We punted the ball. We got the ball back. We had an opportunity. Unfortunately, we turned it over. So, no, there was no thought on that there."

On the run game in the first half and if it contributed to the outcome:

"Well I think it does. It does contribute a little bit. You got to run the ball successfully to make your entire offensive arsenal palatable. They had success running the ball, so their play action was very palatable. They did a nice job mixing up their play calling – got to give them credit. They came to play hard and like I said, they capitalized on the mistakes we made and down the stretch they were able to hold us off."

On rookie WR DJ Moore:

"Well, I think this is all about building confidence. DJ is going to be a part of what we do for a long time, as is Curtis Samuel, as is pretty much anybody on this football team. If we believe in them, we're going to keep putting them out there. That’s the only way these guys are going to learn and develop into the players we believe they can be. We will stick with them. We have done it in the past where the quarterback has come back and threw the ball to the guy and we will continue to do it. We’re trying to develop a football team. I’m not too concerned about punishing players for making mistakes as much as we are about developing and making sure they are learning and growing and being able to go forward. That’s the idea behind that."

On the two fumbles:

"Just too much effort on the punt. Truth of the matter is once he got locked up, he should have protected the ball and gone down. The other one you got give them [Redskins] credit. They punched the ball out. That’s a little something Josh Norman learned from Charles “peanut” Tillman and that was the punch. So you got to give them credit for a play well made."

On Redskins CB Josh Norman's interception:

"Well yeah, I think again, anytime you turn the ball over three times in the first fifteen, eighteen minutes of the game, it should energize you as a football team. Like I said, they capitalized and put some points up on the board early and again, that falls on us. We have to protect the ball and we can’t put them in those position to have success against us."

On staying even keel after fumbles:

"That’s it, just trying to make sure we stay even keel. The biggest thing, more so than anything else, is you got to force something on the other side of the ball. When you're put in a tough situation as a defense, you have to force a field goal or you have to force a take away or something. You can’t let them capitalize. Unfortunately, the first time we had one, we gave up on the very next play, we gave up a seams right up the middle for a touchdown."

On LB Thomas Davis and TE Greg Olsen:

"I thought those guys brought some energy. I thought those guys played well. Both guys did exactly what we believed they can and that was to make plays that contributed to this. Unfortunately, we didn’t pull it out at the end."

On the first quarter struggles:

"Other than turnovers, no. Again, like I said, you have to give them [Redskins] credit. They came out and played well. Their backs were a little bit up against a wall. They had a tough one on Monday night. They responded very nicely for Coach Gruden."

On disappointment of the game:

"More so than anything else was when we turned the ball over. You know, the sudden change of defense.

Would have liked to have seen a force of field goals and we didn’t unfortunately. We gave up a big play. They ran a seams route against a cover three and it’s easy to split. The quarterback did a nice job. He pumped out to his right. The safety had to drift over that way with and opened up the tight end at the left side."

On S Eric Reid getting out of position on shoulder fade:

"Yeah, I mean again, whoever the post safety was, yes. That’s tough because if you give the quarterback a little bit of time to pump it, drew him off his mark. Again, that’s very tough. That’s tough of me ask a safety flushing a quarterback to punt, return back and come back the other way."

On importance of special teams:

"It was unfortunate. You know it’s all a part of the game. You’re going to make mistakes and you can’t allow the opponent to capitalize. That’s what happened. We allowed them to capitalize and it cost us. In the end, like I said, we have to make sure, as coaches, to put them in the position to be successful."

On rallying after fumbles:

"Very much so. That’s all part of the game. You have bad things happen but it is how you respond. For us, we are learning and we are growing from it. Again, that’s something I think our young players will take and our veteran guys will be a little salty about it tomorrow. Deservedly so because we are going to get a chance to look at the tape and we'll see that we missed some opportunities."

On how the team responded to a close game:

"Well I think again we responded well enough down the stretch to give us a chance to win and we just didn’t pull it off. That’s what you would like to be able to do. Confidence was high when we forced the last field goal because the margin was seven to win—six to tie seven to win. We felt pretty comfortable that we could get the ball down there and it was just a matter of finishing. Unfortunately, we didn’t. Again, like I said, you got to credit them for what happened."

On the run defense:

"Well we mixed it up. We had a couple of other things he had to install and some of them worked. We were successful with some of them. Unfortunately, we gave them a little too much rushing yards. Credit to them. They blocked well up front. Adrian Peterson ran hard. I think he created the opportunity for them down the stretch to control the clock a little bit."

On what he saw from WR Devin Funchess and WR Torrey Smith during today’s game:

"I think it was exactly what we hoped for. If they’re shutting the run down, we got to be able to open it up downfield. We got to mix it up with being able to get the ball from the quarterback, make sure we get it to the tight end and then throw it to the receivers. I really thought those guys came through for us. It’s just unfortunate we really didn’t start rolling until we got into the second half. And I really do mean it, I want to credit them for how they played."

On QB Cam Newton’s imagination as a quarterback:

"I think that he's showing that he is developing and continuing that process. Bringing Coach [Scott] Turner in was with that in mind, with him growing and taking the next step. We’re starting to see even more so that. He is trying to be patient. He is trying to let things unfold. I think he made a couple of good decisions to throw the ball away, which is important as well."

On S Eric Reid:

"I think Eric has done a great job. He made some really nice open field tackles too to keep Adrian [Peterson] from popping some good long runs. That’s what we are looking for is a big, physical, athletic safety and that's what we've got. He's done a great job for us. I think the more and more he gets comfortable, the more and more you will see him make plays. It’s just a matter of time I think before he really blows one out of the stadium for us and has a big day."

On what he saw from the Redskins that was surprising:

"I thought they just played a steady game. I don’t think there was anything surprising. They are a good football team. They run the ball extremely well with Adrian [Peterson]. They did a good job of mixing their play calling in. You really couldn’t get a beat on them. You have to give them credit. The things they did. They took advantage of our own mistakes and that’s why they won the football game."

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