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The Panthers' 10th loss of the 2021 campaign was perhaps the toughest one to digest. The defeat knocked Carolina (5-10) from postseason contention, marking the fourth consecutive year where the Panthers will be absent from the playoffs. Making matters worse were chants of "Fire Rhule!" from Panthers' fans that attended Carolina's 32-6 loss to the Buccaneers

Cam Newton came to the defense of his head coach after the game. Newton, who was replaced by Sam Darnold during Sunday's contest, called Rhule "a great coach" during his postgame press conference. 

"I can tell you right now it wasn't because of the coaching," Newton said of Sunday's loss, via ESPN's David Newton. "It wasn't because of what a person may have said or done. The truth of the matter is, we're all playing for jobs.

"If you don't think as a coach you wouldn't do the right things to win and build your tenure here, you wouldn't do it."

The loss dropped Carolina to 10-21 over Rhule's two years with the team. When asked about the fans' public backlash Sunday, Rhule said that he didn't take their criticism personally. 

"I come from Philadelphia,'' Rhule said. "To me, it just shows people care. We're not winning. I have no problem with that. People spend hard-earned money to come watch us play.

"When you're the head coach, the quarterback, that's all part of it. It makes it that much better when you win. But I would much prefer passion over apathy. I would much prefer pressure over nothing. I could do something else.

"I think our fans have been great -- they support us -- and sometimes you need to be booed."

Rhule said that he "hate(s) it for our fans that we're not winning" while adding that his plan is to build a team that can be successful for the long term. And while Rhule's longterm status in Carolina is anyone's guess, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported before Sunday's game that Rhule is safe for now, but getting through year three could be a challenge.