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‘Riverboat Ron’ a lifestyle, not a nickname

Tom Sorensen
Tom Sorensen has been a columnist at The Observer for 20 years and has been at the paper for 25, writing about nearly every sport in the Carolinas.
1216panthers_312
David T. Foster, III - dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) gets hit as he throws by New York Jets defensive end Quinton Coples (98) on a 4th-and-2 that failed Sunday. Ron Rivera went for it, but what did you expect? He’s the Boat.

Ron Rivera will be criticized by some for electing to go for a first down on fourth-and-2 from the New York 14. This was midway through the third quarter, and Cam Newton threw an imcomplete pass. But what would Rivera do other than go for the first down? He’s the Boat.

The Boat doesn’t just go for it. The Boat lives for it. Riverboat Ron isn’t just a name. Riverboat Ron is a lifestyle.

He failed to pick up the first down Sunday. But he’s 10-of-13 on fourth downs this season . Be cool if, instead of a Carolina Panthers jacket, Boat prowled the sideline in a vest.

•  New York’s Ed Reed was once as good as any safety in football. He’s one of the best of all time. But he’s 35 now and in his 12th season, and he can’t cover anybody. I use to love his work. Watching him Sunday was painful.

•  Love the ballhanding. Cam Newton drops back, fakes a hitch pass, fakes a handoff, and hits tight end Greg Olsen for 27 yards.

On DeAngelo Williams’ 72-yard touchdown Newton commits to a screen pass on the left side. He’s going to throw there. You can tell. Instead he finds Williams with a screen pass on the right. Williams takes off as if propelled, picks up a great block from Brandon LaFell and scores.

Then Newton fakes a handoff, rolls right and gives the ball to Ted Ginn Jr. on an end around that picks up 14 yards.

•  The Jets ran twice ran rookie tackle Sheldon Richardson on the goal line. The Panthers stopped him once but the second time Richardson snuck in, although sneak is the wrong word. Men who weigh 294 pounds don’t sneak. And you thought Carolina’s Mike Tolbert was big.

Maybe the Panthers will try the strategy with their rookie defensive tackle, Star Lotulelei. “No,” Rivera says as he leaves his post-game news conference. “No. No. No. No.”

Rivera is the Boat. Look for the ploy soon on a field near you.

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