Q: After beginning the second half with two quick touchdowns, it looked like you were right back in the game, but how much did that change so quickly?
Nolan: I did feel like we came out at halftime, we were inspired to play some good ball and it showed when we got it to 17-14. But then we fumbled the punt, they got the ball at the 11, they stuck it in, and it took some wind out of our sails I guess you could say. But at the same time, they continued to fight and play hard. But ball security was an issue today to some degree. But we continue to fight hard to the end. It's just that we're not getting it done.
Q: You created two takeaways with interceptions, but also turned over the ball six times yourself. How much of an inbalance did that create, particularly in time of possession? You can't give Frank Gore the opportunities if you don't have the ball.
Nolan: When you minimize those chances on offense, whether it's the defense staying on the field, or whether it's a fumbled punt, those kinds of things, those are all opportunities where you're going to get your offense on the field. So it is a collective issue, and it's one of those things we've been dealing with most of this season. It's unfortunate, but I'll be damned, it's something that has been a problem.
Q: It looked like you had been solving your protection issues, so why were the Panthers - who were last in the league in sacks entering the game - all over quarterback Trent Dilfer?
Nolan: It's the same as usual. When you get down, and when you get down early in the game, it was not happening. But as the game wears on, it's one of those things where it gets more and more. And that's the accurate assessment of it. When we got down 17-0, I know that's when (Carolina defensive tackle Kris) Jenkins came in and got a sack. He wouldn't have had a sack if it hadn't been for 17-0, because he just pinned his ears back knowing we were going to have to pass the ball. But, that doesn't excuse the fact you have to block him. So anyhow, that's what happens when you get behind like that. You have to stay out of those situations or, as we all know, you have to protect better.
Q: How much were you hurt by Carolina blitzing and frequently bringing five and six guys at the quarterback?
Nolan: A lot of it has to do with the situation, they were able to do it. Because when they didn't, I thought we protected fairly well. But you can't just block well when there's only four guys coming. You've got to be able to block when there's five and six as well, as we all know. It was a problem today.
Q: With Trent Dilfer throwing four interceptions, was that just coming from all the pressure, that he was just trying to get rid of somewhere and something went wrong?
Nolan: I think Trent is a hell of a competitor, and I believe that he's just trying to make something happen. And sometimes when you do that, it's something that's not good, and that's what happened today. I'm sure he would like to have some of those throws back. But again, he's doing it out of the effort to try and get us on track and create a spark. And it backfired.
Q: Special teams have been such a plus for this team this season, but how much did they let you down today?
Nolan: They have been (a plus). I think the biggest mistake we made was just that fumbled punt (by Michael Lewis). Outside of that, we have a very solid group that has played well. I thought we covered very good, and I thought we had a couple of kickoff returns, the field position that we got several times was good. Their kicker doesn't kick it quite as deep as some. Anyhow, it has been a strength for us, I count on it to continue to be a strength. It shines so much for us most of the time that any little dropoff … Like I said, that turnover on the one (punt), it was very costly. It was 17-14, we were getting momentum, and we just stopped them … That was unfortunate.
Q: Vinny Testaverde isn't exactly the most mobile quarterback around. Why couldn't you get to him and harass him more?
Nolan: No, he wasn't (harassed). They were able to run the ball a little bit - they popped some runs out of there - but we didn't get them in the situations typically where you can pin your ears back as often as we'd like to. And that's those third-down-and-longs. We struggled with one early and they hit us with a screen and slowed us down somewhat. But that was really the key there. They just stayed out of some of the third-down-and-longs that you obviously shoot for, that our offense was in several times. So it takes away some of those chances.
He said it: Mike Nolan after loss to Panthers
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