The Oakland Raiders stayed in Ballantyne. Think about that. The Raiders are the silver and black, the pirates and plunderers. In the old days they collected penalties the way some Ballantyne residents collect SUVs and sons named III. In the old days they didnt need hotels. When the evening festivities concluded they simply showed up at the stadium. Kenny Stabler never stayed in Ballantyne.
• I read that the Panthers had to beat Oakland for Ron Rivera to retain his job as Carolinas head coach. I also read that he had to beat New Orleans. How do the writers know this? Who told them? Whos their source? If the Panthers do it right, theyll hire a general manager and the general manager will decide if Rivera stays or goes. It really is that simple or should be.
• Nice sequence of play-calls: Cam Newton runs right for 29 yards. On the next play he finds a hole on the left, DeAngelo Williams at his side. Defense has to stop the man who just ran for 29. Newton gains 2 yards, attracts most of the defenders and laterals to Williams. He picks up 14 more.
• How good are the Panthers? Do you know? They're better than they were earlier this season. But if they had to win, would they? I don't know. Do you?
• Former Carolina quarterback Steve Beuerlein was in the press box Sunday, providing color commentary for CBS. He lives in Southern California now. Beuerlein, 47, played behind the worst offensive line in Panthers history. He spent most Sundays serving as a cross between a quarterback and a heavy bag you see hanging from the ceiling in a boxing gym. He never complained, at least not publicly. He was a player you wanted in your huddle, locker room and city.
• By the final home game of the season fans know each other. Their group has been through it all season, from the lows to the less lows to the OKs to the highs. Everybody I encountered was in a good mood before Sundays finale. But there was a bittersweet quality to the tailgates. See you in 2013.