Carolina Panthers

Seahawks lament ‘lousy turf,’ but both teams played on it, Ron Rivera notes

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera talks to his players while playing agains the Seattle Seahawks during their NFC Divisional game at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, January 17, 2016. The Panthers won 31-24, and will play in the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship next week.
Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera talks to his players while playing agains the Seattle Seahawks during their NFC Divisional game at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, January 17, 2016. The Panthers won 31-24, and will play in the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship next week. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Field conditions Sunday weren’t ideal, but Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he couldn’t expect much more this late in the season.

The turf was soft at Bank of America Stadium during Carolina’s 31-24 playoff victory over Seattle, and neither team had an advantage since they both had to play on it.

But several players on both teams slipped throughout the game, and the FOX broadcast pointed out the field conditions several times to viewers at home.

“I think once guys got the right cleats on they understood what the cleats needed to be,” Rivera said Monday. “You usually get that feel after warmups, change your shoes and get the right shoes on, you should be OK. That’s what’s to be expected this time of year. … You’re going to get those kind of conditions because it’s hard to predict the weather, it’s hard to predict how much of a pounding it’s going to take.”

The Panthers re-sodded the field three times this season, which is the most in team history. They did it after the wet overtime game against Indianapolis in early November, again before December’s ACC Championship Game and a third time during the playoff bye week.

There were a few noticeable slips during the game. The first, and possibly the biggest, came on the first offensive play of the game when Seattle safety Earl Thomas slipped running toward Jonathan Stewart. Thomas slipped and slid past Stewart, who gained 59 yards on the play.

“Earl slipped and fell on the lousy turf,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told a Seattle radio station Monday. “That’s how it happened. Normally that’d be a 6- or 7-yard play.”

Panthers tight end Ed Dickson slipped starting his route on a key third down at the end of the first quarter but got up and made the catch.

Defensive end Charles Johnson slipped on a third-quarter rush when Josh Norman came on a freelance blitz and sacked Russell Wilson.

“I know this, I asked some of our guys how they felt about it, and once they got to (into different cleats), they felt much better,” Rivera said. “A couple of guys said it’s slippery in certain areas, but again this time of year I’d like to say that the field was in pretty good shape.”

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