Late last season Ron Rivera was a good football coach. He was confident andhe proved it by taking the kinds of chances he disdained in Orchard Park, N.Y. Sunday.
Some of you contend that last season's late victories were meaningless. No victory is meaningless. Win four straight and five of six and you did something, regardless of the months in which the victories occurred.
Carolina attempted nine fourth-down conversions last season, and succeeded on only three.
But the Panthers hit their last two, one at Bank of America Stadium in a victory against Atlanta and one at San Diego in a victory against the Chargers.
I wouldn't say Rivera left San Diego swaggering; he's not that kind of guy. But at that juncture, mid-December, Rivera was confident.
And I swear that confidence pervaded his team. Go for it? Of course, in the right situation, they'll go for it. They were not going to be stopped.
They earned that mindset by winning.
Think about the games you play. Hit a couple baskets, you assume you'll hit more, as does the poor sap trying to guard you. Get hot in pool and two balls into the game you can envision your opponent picking up the rack.
The Panthers aren't swaggering at the moment. They aren't entitled. They're staggering.
If they lose at home Sunday to the New York Giants Carolina will be 0-3, 0-for-September and out of the playoffs yet again.
I'm not saying the Panthers will make the playoffs if they beat the Giants. (Drugs are bad.) But at least they'll know they can win an NFL football game.
That's a start.