Carolina Panthers players were in support of Ron Rivera’s fake punt call
The Carolina Panthers won a crucial game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, defeating the Titans 30-20 in a game that helped push the team to 5-3 and keep them alive in a tight NFC playoff race. The win was highlighted by Panthers coach Ron Rivera’s gamble on a fake punt, something that plenty of players on the team were all in support of.
Speaking to the media after the game (via The Athletic’s Joseph Person), some Panthers players – including quarterback Kyle Allen – praised the coach for his decision to go for it on fourth-and-4 from their own 36.
“Not to put it any other way — it was ballsy and we got it. We pushed that pile and we got it, and I think it sparked a little more momentum in us,” Allen said when asked about the play.
The play itself came early in the third quarter, right after Derrick Henry had cut the Panthers lead to 17-7. As the Panthers looked ready to punt, Ron Rivera – nicknamed Riverboat Ron for his gambling personality – decided to go for it instead of giving momentum back to the Titans.
Thankfully for the Panthers, Colin Jones was able to convert the fake punt, even though he was a bit hesitant after hearing one of the Titans defensive backs yelling to watch for the fake.
“It was a good look. The only thing (was) they talked about it. Their coach was yelling to (Cruikshank). He was communicating to (him) to widen out to try to take away that fake,” said Jones.
Fortunately for him, he was able to convert the fourth down, but not after having to fight for a couple of extra yards.
“I literally looked, like, mid-holdup, and I was like, ‘Rivera’s going to kill me if I don’t get this,’” Jones added. “I could see that I was short. I was like, ‘Uh-oh, I’ve got another yard to go. C’mon, baby.’ And just kept churnin’. And luckily, me and whoever else pushed me to the promised land.”
The play itself wasn’t the only reason the Panthers one, but did show how Rivera is looking to win in any way. With another big matchup against the 7-2 Green Bay Packers on the horizon, Rivera will once again likely pull out any number of tricks in an effort to keep his Panthers in the thick of a playoff race.