Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Carolina has been dismissive of its lone loss to Falcons

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Carolina Panthers have been generally dismissive of their one loss to the Falcons this season, diminishing Atlanta's efforts in that 20-13 upset at the Georgia Dome and attributing the defeat to their own weak efforts.

There has been excuse-making from cornerback Josh Norman, who said he was still distracted from his physical and verbal brawl with the New York Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. the week before. (Beckham wound up getting suspended for diving into Norman for a helmet-to-helmet hit.) Norman suggested that's partly why the Falcons' Julio Jones had such a monster game: nine catches for 178 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown.

There also was the fact that the Panthers, disrupted by bad weather in the Charlotte area, had a poor week of practice. Quarterback Cam Newton also returned to his native Atlanta on Friday, two days before the game, to be there for the birth of his son, Chosen.

Tight end Greg Olson referred to his team's strong focus all season, then referenced the loss as "one slip up there we had in Atlanta."

Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula said, "As you go and you win, of course, more and more questions are being asked about going undefeated, and our guys handled it well. When we got beat by Atlanta, we had to regroup. It was tough. Guys were down, really down because we felt like we didn’t play well. They played well and did a nice job, but I think that shows a lot about our guys and that they are very resilient."

I mention all this because Falcons coach Dan Quinn was in San Francisco Thursday to do radio row, a Super Bowl week tradition for many coaches and general managers. Quinn was amused over the fact that almost everybody's first question to him was, "How did you beat Carolina?"

"It’s so funny to hear everybody ask, ‘What’s the one key?’” Quinn told me.

The Falcons' coach had a number of interesting things to say about his team and the Panthers, and he also talked about his biggest regret of the season. Hint: It happened in November in Levi's Stadium, the site of Sunday's Super Bowl.  For my full column on Quinn, click here.

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was asked a strange question at Thursday's news conference. (Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)

Dumb Question of the Week: OK, this is at least tied with Carolina's Thomas Davis being asked to compare this Super Bowl "to the last time you were in the Super Bowl?" Problem: Davis never has played in the Super Bowl before. Carolina played in the title game in the 2003 season, two years before Davis was drafted out of Georgia. (Davis's response to the question: "What last time?")

On Thursday, a reporter didn't make an incorrect factual assumption. He simply asked a stupid question to Cam Newton: "Why are you wearing socks with sandals?"

I wish I was making that up.

While we're all trying to process how this person managed to get credentialed for Super Bowl week, here's Newton's answer, which was kinda brilliant: "Why are you wearing jeans with shoes? It’s just comfort. I mean, we’re still at our team hotel, so it just gives you guys something else to talk about, you know? Especially, I told you, nothing has changed since 24 hours (ago), so if I see an article talking about my sandals and socks, that would be new."

BRADY WILL SHOW: The NFL announced Thursday that 40 past Super Bowl MVPs will be honored on the field before Sunday's game. The significance of this is that Tom Brady will be one of them. There had been speculation that Brady would not attend because of his ongoing feud (and litigation) over "Deflategate." But Brady apparently has decided to not let the air out of the event. (Sorry, too easy.) Expect the loudest cheers to be saved for three former San Francisco Super Bowl MVPs: Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Steve Young.

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.