Heading into the 2013 season, a strong finish to the team's previous campaign was largely overshadowed by questions surrounding coach Ron Rivera's ability to win close games. Speculation regarding Rivera's job security heightened after the Panthers limped to a third consecutive 1-3 start to begin the season. Following their sluggish start, the Panthers responded with a franchise-record eight straight wins. The team's defense dominated the stretch, holding opponents to just 12.4 points per game during that span. The Panthers then took three of their remaining four games to finish 12-4.
Although Carolina lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the season proved wildly successful overall. Rivera led the team to a 5-0 record in November and December in games decided by a touchdown or less and was ultimately named the NFL's Coach of the Year. Anchoring the team's stout defense, linebacker Luke Kuechly was awarded the NFL's Defensive
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