After losing to the Falcons earlier this season when they let a receiver behind them in the final minute, the Panthers were determined not to let that happen again.
But that didn’t stop Ron Rivera and his staff from calling the same coverage again, and again, and again as the Bears pecked their way to a game-winning field goal.
“They threw the same pass play all the way down the field,” Panthers safety Charles Godfrey said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “It wasn’t nothing they were doing. It was what we were in, the coverage we were in. That was a great play for that coverage. And they just ran that play all the way down the field.
“The coverage we were in, we stayed in that coverage. That’s what happened.”
Jay Cutler completed 5-of-6 passes on the final drive, none of them longer than 12 yards. He kept throwing little slants to Brandon Marshall, and the Panthers didn’t change anything, having been burned previously.
“It’s one of those things where if you jump [the route] and they double-move you, now all of a sudden it’s a touchdown or the ball is in field goal range,” Rivera said. “We were trying to make them systematically beat us.”
While the firing of general manager Marty Hurney a week ago was the first sign Rivera might not be on stable footing, he’s now 1-10 in games decided by a touchdown or less as the Panthers head coach.
He’s also 7-16 overall (.304 winning percentage), putting him safely below George Seifert (16-32, .333) as the losingest coach in franchise history.
Seifert got three years to earn that distinction.
Rivera might not.