Panthers' Ron Rivera won't dwell on questionable calls


Even with Cam Newton thoroughly outplaying Colin Kaepernick in the first two quarters, the Carolina Panthers found themselves down 13-10 at halftime of Sunday's loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Ron Rivera's squad has themselves to blame for failing to convert seven opportunities at the goal line on two separate drives. But Panthers fans can't be blamed if they blow off a little steam at a string of calls that didn't go their way in the first two quarters.

A questionable personal foul call on Mike Mitchell turned a punt into a 49ers field goal on the opening drive. A head-butting penalty on Captain Munnerlyn placed San Francisco back in field-goal range a few minutes later.

Between those two scoring drives, a blatant defensive hold went unnoticed on Patrick Willis' interception of Newton.

Although the precedent had been set early in the game, a pair of late, second-quarter head butts by 49ers offensive players went unflagged deep in Panthers territory.

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A Drayton Florence pass interference call in the end zone led directly to the Vernon Davis touchdown catch that gave Jim Harbaugh's team a lead it would never relinquish. On that very play, officials missed 12 men in the huddle, which should have placed the 49ers on the 6-yard line rather than the 1.

After the game, Munnerlyn called the Florence penalty "horrible" and complained that the 49ers got away with more on the field. "I'll probably get fined for what I'm saying," Munnerlyn added, "but it's how I feel."

Likewise, Mitchell repeatedly used the phrase "terrible" to describe his own penalty, according to ESPN's Bill Williamson.

In the interest of fairness, the Panthers lost their composure, shot themselves in the foot and failed to take advantage of prime opportunities.

They couldn't stop Anquan Boldin. They couldn't protect Newton in the second half. And their vaunted front seven got trampled for a trio of scoring drives that all went for at least 70 yards starting late in the second quarter.

To Rivera's credit, he didn't dwell on the officiating after the game.

"Some things happened out there," Rivera said. "We don't want to be pushed around, but we do have to maintain our composure, and that falls on me as the head coach."

"I'm real disappointed, obviously, in what happened. How it came out," Rivera continued. "But that's part of learning and growing and becoming a better football team and we'll learn from this ... We became a football team this year. This game is not indicative of what our season was about. We're going to get better. We're going to come back."

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