On Tuesday’s Pro Football Talk on NBCSN, former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison explained that it was good for the Panthers to have lost to the Falcons, given the intense pressure of carrying a perfect record into the postseason. On Wednesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, Panthers coach Ron Rivera agreed.
“You know, in hindsight definitely,” Rivera said. “Because I’ve been listening to some of the things people have said. Most notably what Tedy Brusci had talked about, what those guys went through trying to be undefeated, trying to go 19-0 and just how hard it was. How after every game it felt like a playoff game, and I started thinking about those things.
“I’ll be honest with you, the best I’ve slept in probably the last four weeks was Sunday night after the Atlanta game. In all honesty, I slept the night, didn’t get up in the middle of the night thinking about things. I slept 12 hours. I mean I got home I went right to bed, next thing I know it’s 7:30 in the morning It’s just one of those things and so I think in hindsight, yeah. . . . Today we had a really spirited practice but the guys, that energy I think that’s been missing the last few weeks is there. I do, I’d have to say I think it is, Mike.”
The pressure already was intense, and it would have gotten even worse with each additional victory. Now, they can quit worrying about 16-0 and focus on the thing that really matters: Winning the first Super Bowl in franchise history.