Rivera: Panthers still not being respected


Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera feels his team are not getting the recognition they deserve, given they boast the best record in the NFL.

The Panthers - led by MVP candidate Cam Newton - are 14-1 and have a chance to lock up the number one seed in the NFC play-offs with a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

However, Rivera is baffled by the doubts surrounding the Panthers' Super Bowl credentials.

"I think we crashed the party,'' Rivera said. "People were expecting us to be 8-8, 9-7, I guess. It took people a long time to pay attention to us.

"I don't think we were fairly treated by some other people. People made statements about who we are, and they have no idea about who we really are.''

Buccaneers defensive lineman Gerald McCoy gave Panthers quarter Cam Newton credit on Thursday, saying he should be the league's MVP because "of what he does with what he has", referencing the loss of Kelvin Benjamin in the pre-season.

But Rivera is using the perceived disrespect to fuel his roster, which happens to have 10 guys named to this year's Pro Bowl.

"I don't get it. I really don't. It's funny. At one point you've got a 14-game winning streak and people doubt you, then you lose one game and people doubt you even more," Rivera said.

"It's about trying to get recognized, and we have to some degree. But I just don't think we've gotten our due, which is OK.

"We'll just do the best we can. We'll show up, play hard, and see what happens.''