"We finished," Rivera said after Sunday's game in a phone interview. "Last season, we had leads in the fourth quarter 10 times. We only won six. Learning how to finish was good for us."
Other key points cited by Rivera:
» The emergence of Brandon LaFell, who had six catches for 90 yards: "We had a young guy step up," Rivera said. "Last year, they rolled all their coverages to Steve (Smith). This week, they really couldn't because Brandon was making plays. Brandon is really stepping up as that No. 2, and he and Steve are forming a nice tandem. That's good to see."
» Jonathan Stewart rushing for 51 yards provided quarterback Cam Newton a security blanket the Panthers didn't have against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1, when they rushed for just 10 yards. "Jonathan gave us that presence inside, running between the tackles and that helped put Cam at ease," Rivera said. "DeAngelo (Williams) is excellent off tackle. We had it working like we wanted to in the running game."