Panthers going the Rivera-boat gambler route

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After another 1-3 start (which followed a pair of 2-8 starts), Panthers coach Ron Rivera made a decision.

If he’s going down, he’s going down swinging.

The Panthers got some much-needed momentum with a pair of early conversions on fourth downs, and the conservative Rivera said that’s how it’s going to be from now on.

Well, it’s kind of what we’re going to do and we’re going to do the best we can to make things happen,” Rivera said of his new philosophy, via David Newton of ESPN.com. “These guys bought into it.”

Of course, having the head coach buy into it helps.

Rivera was one of the league’s tightest coaches in fourth-down situations, and it came back to bite him more often than not. The 2-3 Panthers blew a game at Buffalo after kicking a field goal with a three-point lead and 1:42 left in the game. That’s happened to him often enough to become part of the furniture.

But as they have in their what-the-heck December hot streaks, the Panthers are playing loose.

“I think that he is kind of breaking his mold to a degree, and giving the whole team confidence with him,” quarterback Cam Newton said.

While he can’t go back and change his mind on decisions from the past, playing more aggressively could give the Panthers a degree of future in a muddled NFC.