Panthers cornerback Josh Norman's comments to the media after Carolina's 20-9 Week 1 win in Jacksonville.
You seemed to provide a spark for the defense?
"First of all, thanks to God for allowing me to come out and play this week. I didn't know if I was going to be able to play with the concussion protocol that we had to go through, so I want to give thanks there. I came out here and it wasn't pretty. The biggest thing I figured out is that I have to be more consistent on certain plays and situations, but when my chance came, I took it and ran with it. Bortles was playing with us a good bit in the second quarter and I wanted to show him we aren't nobody to play with. I guess he didn't read the scouting report, but we were playing cover 3. I seen it and my feet went before I could think. I broke on it, caught the ball, and I made sure I had it and said goodbye to him and went in with it."
What kind of shot in the arm was that for the team?
"I like to give the defense something to get up for, so if I'm out there and I'm going crazy or whatever, it's not to take it personal. It's something to give us some energy to get going. If you don't like how I play then, don't throw the ball my way. It's that simple. It is what it is. It's no pack between lions and men out there. You gotta go out there and you gotta be a dog. Every time you step in between those white lines, it's a totally different person, that's my take and how I play and approach the game."
Did you say something when running past Bortles?
You seemed insulted that he even threw the ball your way?
"I was, the whole second quarter I was. It was like bro really don't read the scouting report. At the end of the day, I give credit to those guys because they were a formidable opponent. Going through the week and understanding the route concepts they were trying to give us, but at the same time, you gotta pick and choose, you really do. I think [Bortles] will work and grow on that. He's a good QB, he really is."
You knew the throw was coming?
"We practiced that. I knew that was 2-on-2, with inside slants, and it was a cover 3, and I was going to make sure I had position. Hey, coach [Steve] Wilks taught us eye discipline, and I caught it this time and got to the end zone."
Was the celebration planned or spontaneous?
"Shoot, I got my horse down here, so I decided I wanted to get on him and ride him back in and let everybody know about it."
Was that a 'Peanut Punch to knock the ball loose?
"It was a punch. It was coming down hill with violent, aggression. Since he got here, he's been punching that ball out and I just wanted to get more than him this season."
Were you going for the ball on the forced fumble the whole time?
"I seen the ball and said screw that. I'm not going to tackle him; I'm going for the ball. I'm going down with a violent strike and that's what happened. It was on the ground and we picked it up and I ended up getting it then losing it on the ground, but don't tell the referees that. No. 88 ended up recovering it, but we got the ball still. Bené [Benwikere] jumped on it, too."
So you didn't actually recover that fumble?
"Shoot, I don't know. We got the ball. It was going the other way so I guess we did." (laughs)
What was the bottom of that pile like?
"I can't even describe it to you. It was like being in the doghole, trying to get out of there. Fight, fight, fight. Trying to grab the ball, digging in folks' eyes and everything; eye-gouging. I think Hurns didn't like that too well. He was pushing and I went somewhere else and I had to understand it was the game and can't go out there like that."
Defensive play overall?
"Darn good. I take credit for the score that they had going into the second quarter. That was all my fault on those three plays going down. I have to be in better position in that coverage and zone and then the fade out there. I was in good position there. I could have turned my head around a little bit and got the ball. They came back and ran three receivers to that side. No. 13 sat down and pulled away from me a little bit and Blake Bortles just threw a good pass. It happens. You have to bounce back from that and understand the game's not over and make him pay on the next one and that's what we did."
What's it say about the defense that you have Luke out and still play well?
"That speaks credit to the defense as a whole. When you lose Luke Kuechly, that's hard anywhere. It don't matter what it is. That guy is an animal in the middle. He plays with ferocious violence and I felt real bad he went out with a concussion. It sucks. We had to pick our game and our play up. We did that as a defense and rallied together and we made plays that we needed to make to get off the field."
You're betting on yourself this year?
"I'm blessed regardless of whatever the situation might hold. Right now I'm here in Carolina and I love it here. I've been playing here my whole life. God has me, and it's his will and if he chooses to be here, if not, either way it goes, I'm in his will. His will is always better than myself."
Not a bad way to start off contract year?
"Not a bad way to start off for the Panthers, period. Getting that win under our belt, and coming back and watching film on Monday is going to be excellent. I know we have to do some more stuff and get better in certain areas and certain plays, we have get better at. That's also coming with film study, knowing our keys and knowing what we're supposed to do each and every week."
Did you have a horse at training camp?
"I brought my horse down here two days ago. In Spartanburg, I maybe did. But nobody has proof so who knows. My pops owns like 13, and I own three or four of them."
Which one did you ride into the end zone?
"That was Delta, man."