The Panthers insisted after the game their penalties and mistakes weren’t because of inexperience.
But it was the 49ers who had been there before, and ultimately, looked like it.
The Panthers were plagued by silly penalties throughout the game, from early personal fouls on Mike Mitchell and Captain Munnerlyn to Josh Thomas throwing a punch late, as they came unraveled in a 23-10 loss to the 49ers.
“I think there were some things that happened in the first half that really bothered me,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “We lost our composure a couple times and they got inside our head.”
The Panthers complained about several calls, with Mitchell calling his “terrible” a number of times.
But there were others the Panthers had a legitimate beef about, including the 49ers having 12 men in the huddle on their go-ahead touchdown just before halftime.
But that couldn’t match the lack of poise the Panthers showed.
“This is not our first time. We were not excited. We didn’t have Flo Rida coming in and playing at halftime and all those different things,” 49ers safety Donte Whitner said. “Because we expected to be here. We really felt like it was another game to us. I don’t know if it was their Super Bowl, but it was another game to us.”
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton didn’t take the easy route of blaming the refs (as Mitchell did), rather putting the blame squarely on their own shoulders.
“It has nothing to do with inexperience,” Newton said. “That has a lot to do with being careless and not holding yourself accountable, whether it’s a holding call, offsides call, personal foul, late hit or whatever.
“Those guys didn’t make those penalties and we did.”
And now the Panthers have an offseason to try to mature, in hopes of not repeating the mistakes if they get another chance.