Powerhouse Canberra forward Josh Papalii said silencing the pre-season critics played no part in the Raiders' superb start to 2019.
The Raiders (6-2) now face a two-week examination of their premiership aspirations as they face the Sydney Roosters (Magic Round) and South Sydney (home). Those are the only two sides ahead of Canberra on the ladder.
After surrendering 24 points in a round seven loss to Manly, Canberra's defence was again of a high standard against the Panthers.
That was particularly evident when they held out the Panthers while Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was in the sin bin.
Papalii said the composure the team showed was drilled into them during the pre-season.
"I was very confident we could defend that, we trained in the off-season to be able to defend with nine men, so we really pushed for each other and worked hard for each other," the Maroons and Test forward said.
"It's something we have been working really hard at during the off-season and it's paying off for now.
"But we haven't done anything yet so there's no need to get carried away and Rick [coach Ricky Stuart] would say 'three losses in a row and everybody would forget about us and how our start was'."
Papalii led from the front against Penrith and seems a certainty to named for Queensland for the June 5 opener of the Holden State of Origin series.
The Canberra leader ran for 144 metres from 16 carries and pulled off 31 tackles.
Elliott Whitehead was also instrumental in blunting the punch from the Panthers pack.
The win came at a cost for the Raiders with John Bateman suffering a suspected fractured eye socket.
"You have to give credit where it's due ... without Elliott and Batey on the edges it's pretty hard to fill those spots when they are out," Papalii said.
"But in saying that we have an international back-rower in Joe Tapine who's out at the moment but hopefully we get him back in a few weeks and it's all going good so far.
"Huddo [Hudson Young] slipped into that [Bateman] spot today and did a really good job."
Papalii tried to downplay the hype over next weekend's clash with the Roosters.
"We don't have to prove anybody wrong," he said.
"We're just trying to achieve what we can as a team and the only people we are trying to impress is ourselves and fans will be fans and they'll ride winners when they can.
"But saying that Canberra's been really good with our transition this year and hopefully we can take this good form up to Brisbane and get another win against a strong outfit like the Roosters."