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Ron Rivera: Carolina Panthers' loss 'as bad as it gets'

Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel owns a 95.9 percent passer rating after Sunday's inspired 24-23 win over Carolina. The Panthers, meanwhile, are left to ponder what could have been.

"About as bad as it gets," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said, per the team's official website. "We had an opportunity to win the game, an opportunity to close it out, and we didn't do it."

Rivera's decision to kick a field goal on fourth-and-1 with 1:42 left in the game came back to haunt this team. Instead of driving a knife into the Bills, the kick put the Panthers up 23-17 and left open the door for Manuel's heroics.

"The thought process was kick the field goal, go up by six and make them go the length (of the field)," Rivera said, "Unfortunately it worked out for them."

Carolina's offense wasn't as bad as last week, when Cam Newton threw just three passes over 10 yards in a 12-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Still, we never saw Cam look like Cam until the Panthers went up-tempo just before halftime. Newton finally looked comfortable and went 7-of-8 passing on a fast-paced drive that resulted in a 13-yard touchdown strike to Greg Olsen.

Two games in, Mike Shula's offense remains stuck in the mud. NFL.com editor David Ely, a long-suffering Panthers fan, wasn't impressed with Sunday's antics:

Take heart, Ely. Unless Rivera finds a way to improve his 2-14 mark in games decided by seven points or less, both he and Shula might not be long for Carolina.

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