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Kalil: Panthers' loss never should have come down to Gano kick

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil still was wearing a towel from a post-game shower when he stopped in the corner of the locker room to console kicker Graham Gano.

Kalil wanted to let Gano know he didn't blame him for missing a 46-yard field goal with 1:22 remaining in Sunday's 19-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. He said the offense should have played better earlier so the outcome wasn't riding on the kicker's right foot.

Kalil easily could have placed the blame on quarterback Cam Newton, but he didn't.

Newton was horrendous through more than three quarters, posting a 27.1 passer rating before throwing a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to get his final rating up to 82.3.

But as Kalil reminded, "offensively we came to the party a little too late."

The offense has been AWOL for most of a now five-game losing streak, scoring only 57 points. You're not going to win many games averaging 11.4 points a game.

Newton's 82.3 passer rating on Sunday was his best during that stretch. His average for the previous four games was 61.12.

"The answers are in the locker room," Newton said, reminding the Panthers get fullback Mike Tolbert and a few offensive linemen back from injuries when they next play on Nov. 30 at Minnesota. "We're not going to get any miraculous play or any miraculous break.

"It's time for guys to ... say it's time for us to do what we do. I'm talking about me more important. It's just time to do our thing. Nothing else can bother us. Nothing else can affect us. The time has come."

That, nor Kalil's apology, made Gano feel better. He insisted he should have converted the 46-yarder as well as the 63-yarder that was blocked as time expired.

He didn't make excuses, saying the snap and hold on the first kick that went wide left was good. He thought the second kick was hit clean enough to easily reach the net behind the crossbar.

"My teammates have my back," Gano said. "They have confidence in me. I have to pull through and make that kick. That's what it comes down to. No excuses.

"I can't wait for the next game. I hope it comes down to a field goal."