QB Cam Newton - Carolina Panthers
|6-5, 248||Born: 5-10-1989||College: Auburn||Drafted: Round 1, pick 2011|
2019 Week 1 vs LAR (25 / 38 / 239 / 0 / 1 pass, 3 / -2 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton's first real game action since last season started off encouragingly, with a beautiful completion from the left hash to the right sideline on a comeback route to D.J. Moore. The offense seemed to be energised by that moment, but things bogged down soon after. A play fake was botched as Newton faked to the right when the backs had veered left, then a touch pass to Moore was thrown too far in front for him to haul in. Newton's old demons haunted him again as the game progressed, with passes sailing ahead of receivers and taking potentially explosive plays off the board. He managed to re-establish his rapport with Greg Olsen on some short to intermediate throws, but he let a few get away from him with inaccurate passes. The team's second turnover of the game was partially Newton's fault, a pass into the left flat to Moore being thrown backwards, making it a fumble. Moore was unable to corral it, but it appeared the pass should have been thrown out in front of Moore so that he could run behind the blocks set up for a screen. Newton missed Curtis Samuel and Olsen on critical third down plays; on both occasions the passes were outside of the catchable range. Newton threw a pick late in the game, with LB Cory Littleton reading his eyes and breaking on a pass intended for Olsen. To his credit, Newton made the eventual tackle to prevent a touchdown.
2019 Week 2 vs TB (25 / 51 / 333 / 0 / 0 pass, 2 / 0 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton started the game confidently, using play action to create clearer throwing windows to D.J. Moore and Greg Olsen. Newton ran the ball on a fourth down play early in the game, with a pitch option to Moore built in, but he was ruled short of the first down after a measurement. That setback seemed to be a kick in the teeth for the momentum of the offense. Newton picked himself back up, chucking a beautiful deep pass down the left sideline to a waiting Curtis Samuel for 44 yards. Things began to turn soon after, with Newton missing some easy throws, either throwing too high or too short of the target. The offensive line began to surrender pressure, with left tackle Daryl Williams in particular bearing the brunt of the Tampa Bay pass rush. At times Newton didn't even have two seconds to survey the field. Newton's connection with Greg Olsen on intermediate shots gave the offense some much-needed life, but a combination of Newton holding the ball too long and pressure quickly killed the momentum. An interception to a linebacker in underneath coverage was, fortunately for Newton, called back due to a defensive penalty ˝ though it appeared pressure forced a quicker release than he would liked on the play. On the very next play, however, Newton had the ball knocked out of his hands after a strange read option keeper, with the Bucs jumping on it. Newton's accuracy deteriorated as the pressure increased; he nearly threw another pick on a hopeful pass down the middle with no receiver in the area. A crucial third down play late in the game saw him throw an easy pass behind Samuel, who was running a shallow cross. With only a five-man rush, Newton appeared to rush the throw and not set his feet properly. The play was emblematic of his evening's work.
2018 Week 1 vs DAL (17 / 26 / 161 / 0 / 0 pass, 13 / 58 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton produced a solid, if unspectacular, effort against the Cowboys, as he found himself under duress constantly. The Panthers' offensive line was already a question mark entering the game, the return of Daryl Williams notwithstanding, but Williams didn't even finish the game and more shuffling ensued. Newton offset the pass rush early on with some quarterback runs on keepers and veer plays. Dallas defenders continued to play the inside handoff to the back, so Newton gashed them for their ill-discipline. Newton piled up the rushing yards early and got into a nice rhythm. It was in the passing game that the problems occurred, with receivers struggling to get open and Newton having to get rid of the ball in awkward situations. A clean pocket was a luxury, though even when afforded time Newton failed to connect with his receivers, throwing too high. Newton cashed in on a red zone opportunity with a rushing touchdown - again the Cowboys failed to stay with their assignments. The passing game started to build momentum, albeit on a small scale, in the second half, as Newton found Devin Funchess on some laser passes.
2018 Week 2 vs ATL (32 / 45 / 335 / 3 / 1 pass, 5 / 42 / 0 rush)
Despite the box score totals indicating a near-perfect game from Cam Newton, there were many flaws in his performance. He had two turnover-worthy throws as the Panthers clawed back from a deficit, one of which hit Desmond Trufant in the hands, the other a pass simply thrown up for grabs to Torrey Smith that fortunately didn't bounce right for Atlanta. The situation was far from ideal for Newton, who for the second time in two weeks had a reshuffled offensive line protecting him. Newton's accuracy was scattershot in the early exchanges, as he missed Smith high and Jarius Wright low, setting the tone for the day. Newton took a shot to his head as he slid on one scramble but returned to the game none the worse for wear. The hit seemed to inspire the offense, and Newton responded with his first touchdown pass, a dart to Wright in the middle of the end zone. The receiver helped out his quarterback on the play, settling down in a void in the zone. Newton held on the ball too long at times and lacked basic pocket awareness as he tried to lock in on deeper plays. For the most part, therefore, he adjusted his radar and targeted Christian McCaffrey underneath, who consistently beat defenders for chunks of yardage. Before long, those chunks added up and Newton threw his second touchdown pass to Smith, who ran a beautiful skinny post route. The throw was pinpoint and the timing was perfect. Newton was forced to shoulder the offense in the final minutes, capping the game with a pass to D.J. Moore on a deep dig that the rookie took for a 51-yard score. However, a crippling interception prior to that play dug a deeper hole for the Panthers, as a simple check down to C.J. Anderson came off his hands, flew into the air and landed in the paws of an Atlanta player.
2018 Week 3 vs CIN (15 / 24 / 150 / 2 / 0 pass, 10 / 36 / 2 rush)
Cam Newton played a very controlled game behind an offensive line that is outdoing itself. The pocket for Newton was clean most of the day - a forced fumble the only blemish on an otherwise unspoiled card - and he took full advantage. Newton often looked deep to short with his passes, tossing some lovely downfield darts to the likes of Devin Funchess and Torrey Smith. However, Newton's usual erratic accuracy came into play early as he threw passes too high for either Funchess or Smith to haul in. When he settled down, however, buoyed by a stellar rushing attack, he began to pick out his targets. Newton scored his first of two rushing touchdowns off a bootleg on 3rd and goal, taking a gap when he saw it to barrel his way in. Later, he would reach pay dirt again off a veer look, doing an excellent job of holding the ball in Christian McCaffrey's belly before pulling it at the last second. Newton tossed his first touchdown pass with the offense set up in the red zone, firing a bullet pass into Funchess on a slant off play action. It was an exquisitely executed fake that had the Bengals on their heels. Newton added a second touchdown pass later on a backside screen pass to C.J. Anderson, who following his blocks to the end zone as Newton watched on gleefully. With the ground attack humming, Newton maintained control of the offense late on, firing some key strikes to his receivers on third down to convert and get enough breathing room to finish the game off.
2018 Week 5 vs NYG (21 / 35 / 237 / 2 / 2 pass, 8 / 29 / 0 rush)
It proved to be a disjointed game for Cam Newton, who had to overcome a pair of interceptions that were not his fault to seal a last-second win for the Panthers. Newton started off in control and was afforded excellent pass protection. His first touchdown pass came on a tunnel screen to Curtis Samuel, who did all the work himself - with an assist from the Giants defenders - to reach pay dirt. Newton showed fantastic touch on outside-breaking patterns and thrived off play action, which was a staple of the game plan. Newton fumbled the ball on a carry towards the sideline, the ball jarring loose after a hit, but it was recovered by Ian Thomas. As a runner, Newton barreled over a defender or two on his way to a pair of crucial first downs. His second touchdown pass came on a flair pass to an uncovered Christian McCaffrey, who waltzed into the end zone. Both of Newton's interceptions appeared to be the result of a miscommunication between he and Thomas. The first saw Thomas stop short on his dig route, allowing the defensive back to undercut the throw; the second was similar, with Thomas settling down on a shallow cross, with Newton expecting that he would keep running to the sideline. Despite the errors, Newton orchestrated a drive at the end of the game, firing beautiful passes to D.J. Moore and McCaffrey, to give Carolina the chance to win it.
2018 Week 6 vs WAS (27 / 40 / 275 / 2 / 1 pass, 9 / 43 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton was forced to play from behind for most of the game after early turnovers killed promising drives. The offense was clicking early, mixing run with pass efficiently, with some scampers by Newton thrown in. The offensive line put in an excellent shift as pass blockers, providing Newton plenty of time to survey the field. Newton connected particularly well with Devin Funchess, who consistently got open on high degree of difficulty catches. Newton lost his composure on his lone interception, feeling the pocket collapse and chucking a ball downfield speculatively. To add insult to injury, it was picked off by former teammate Josh Norman. Newton was at times scattershot with his accuracy as is his wont, but generally he orchestrated the offense cleanly. His first touchdown pass came on a beautiful deep shot to Devin Funchess. Newton threw the pass high on purpose so that Funchess could high-point it, and the receiver obliged with a tremendous play over the defensive back's head. Newton missed a pair of opportunities on straightforward passes; one a deep shot to Olsen that was overthrown, the second a low pass to Christian McCaffrey that, had it been at chest height, could have secured a first down in a crucial situation. Newton's second touchdown pass came on a simple shallow crossing route to Torrey Smith, who lost his defender in coverage at the goal line. It was a controlled performance from Newton for the most part, but one that was pockmarked by inconsistencies and stacked odds.
2018 Week 7 vs PHI (25 / 39 / 269 / 2 / 0 pass, 7 / 49 / 0 rush)
After a horrendous start that augured poorly for the Panthers' prospects, Cam Newton rallied the offense in the no-huddle to record a famous victory. Pass protection creaked a little bit for Newton in the first half as he would hold on to the ball a few beats longer than needed, taking sacks. Newton's accuracy was scattershot, ending drives earlier than perhaps they should have concluded. Newton used his legs when he needed to, but the Eagles defense was mostly able to keep him under wraps. When the Panthers were down 17-0, Newton finally began to find his feet and his accuracy improved drastically. A pinpoint pass on a skinny post to Jarius Wright set up his first touchdown pass, a slant-and-go that Devin Funchess sold perfectly. Newton's signature play came on a 4th-and-10 to keep the game alive. Holding the ball as long as he could, he took a sizable shot in the chest from a defender, jumping at the same time, and fired a pass to Torrey Smith. The play was a gut-wrenching one to give up for Philadelphia, but it energised Newton and the offense. With less than two minutes to play in regulation, Newton fired his second touchdown pass to Greg Olsen, who sneaked behind the defense with the Carolina offense set up at the goal line. Newton executed a convincing play action fake to Christian McCaffrey, which gave Olsen a split second of extra time to get in behind.
2018 Week 8 vs BAL (21 / 29 / 219 / 2 / 0 pass, 10 / 52 / 1 rush)
Picking up where they left off last week against Philadelphia, the Panthers went no-huddle in the early stages to try to recapture some of that magic. Cam Newton seemed to settle into his rhythm quickly, being afforded excellent pass protection against a stout front. An early drop on third down on a catchable pass from Newton intended for Jarius Wright seemed to take the wind out of the offense's sails, but it wasn't long before they were back on track. Newton fired bullets all over the field and made some fantastic connections with rookie D.J. Moore, who added value to every touch with yards after the catch. Newton showed excellent anticipation on several throws and had clarity on hot reads against the Baltimore blitz. Newton threw his first touchdown pass of the game to Greg Olsen, who got inside his defender on an in cut with the offense at the doorstep of the end zone. The pass was ideal, right between the 8s on Olsen's jersey. Newton's accuracy was excellent throughout, although he had one low pass to Christian McCaffrey that, had he completed it, could have been a big gain. His second touchdown pass came on a fortunate play that could have been intercepted. The play saw Newton target Devin Funchess on a slant route in the end zone. With bodies all around the line of scrimmage, the pass was tipped high into the air. McCaffrey smartly rose highest to haul in the free ball, sparing Newton's blushes. In the second half, the Panthers went to a ball control offense, risking little. Newton added several chunks of yardage with his legs and strolled into the end zone for a rushing touchdown as well on a beautifully executed bootleg. It was a clean, poised game from Newton, who was nearly flawless.
2018 Week 9 vs TB (19 / 25 / 247 / 2 / 0 pass, 11 / 33 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton didn't always look comfortable in this game in the pocket, but he muddled through and kept the offense on schedule in a 42-point effort. The Bucs managed to overwhelm the Carolina offensive line at times, a rarity for a unit that has allowed pressure on less than 10% of dropbacks this season. Newton held the football a beat too long at times and invited such pressure, however. As a runner, Newton was seldom used as Christian McCaffrey found plenty of joy himself. However, Newton pulled the ball out a few times on option plays and scampered for a handful of yards. Newton cashed in with a rushing touchdown on a naked bootleg keeper - or so it seemed. A penalty for an illegal shift nullified the score in the end. Newton zipped a beautiful touchdown pass in to Greg Olsen in what was one of the best catches of the season so far. The pass was thrown high and on the right shoulder so that only Olsen could secure it. Newton missed a couple of routine throws, including an egregious incompletion to Devin Funchess that soared several feet above the receiver's head. To Newton's credit he bounced back when the offense needed a drive - the Bucs had drawn it to within seven points - and tossed a touchdown pass on the post route to Curtis Samuel, chucking it high for his shifty receiver to attack it. It was not a virtuoso display from Newton, but he did not turn the ball over and kept the offense ticking over.
2018 Week 10 vs PIT (23 / 29 / 193 / 2 / 1 pass, 2 / 10 / 0 rush)
A relentless pass rush proved a mountain too high to climb for Cam Newton and the offense against Pittsburgh. After a promising opening drive spurred by an inspired Christian McCaffrey performance, Newton rewarded his do-it-all running back with a touchdown pass after he got open in the left flat on a wheel route. It went downhill from that point, however. On the next possession, Newton dropped back from his own 12-yard line, pressure closing in on him from T.J. Watt. Not willing to take the sack for a safety ˝ he was behind his own goal line ˝ Newton tossed the ball haphazardly into the sky. His intended target was Greg Olsen; instead, the football was intercepted by Vince Williams and returned for a touchdown. That play would be an omen for things to come, as the pressure steadily built on Newton. Carolina's traditionally stout offensive line was overmatched and gave up several sacks. The barrage of bodies coming at Newton affected his accuracy, with balls sailing high above receivers and thudding unceremoniously to the turf. The Panthers seemed to get some momentum in the no-huddle at the end of the half, and soon after Newton connected with McCaffrey again for his second touchdown pass. The play was a carbon copy of the first, with no Steelers defender accounting for McCaffrey out of the backfield. Newton was slow to react to pressure at times and was stripped of the football on one occasion after he held it too long. The reliable McCaffrey dove on it to prevent a turnover to spare Newton's blushes. Things snowballed for Newton in the second half, with possession after possession condemned to failure by a pass rush that could pin its ears back with such a commanding lead.
2018 Week 11 vs DET (25 / 37 / 357 / 3 / 1 pass, 2 / 2 / 0 rush)
With the rushing attack stifled by Detroit for the most part, it fell to Cam Newton to move the offense. He did just that, firing darts early on and at times being let down by Devin Funchess, who dropped multiple on-target throws. Newton spread the ball around liberally on the opening drive, an efficient possession that culminated in a one-yard touchdown pass to Greg Olsen. The play saw Newton execute a crisp play fake before setting his feet and lofting a pass to Olsen, who had escaped the attentions of any Lions defender at the back of the end zone. The offense stagnated after that point, with Newton the culprit at times, taking unnecessary sacks after holding on to the ball a beat too long. Newton threw an interception at the end of the first half after attempting to fit the ball into tight coverage to Curtis Samuel, a careless decision that wasn't punished with points. Newton looked to have sustained a serious injury in the late stages of the game, getting rolled up from behind. After missing a play, he returned to the game to lead the team to another touchdown drive. The play saw Newton loft a beautiful pass up to Samuel, who made an acrobatic grab in the end zone for the score. When the Panthers went to the no huddle, Newton thrived and orchestrated another touchdown drive. His third touchdown pass was a beautiful touch ball to D.J. Moore at the right corner of the end zone, aided by Moore's incredible route to get open. The final play saw the Panthers go for two points to win the game. Newton was afforded ample time on the play and waited for a receiver to come open. He spotted Jarius Wright in the middle of the end zone, but lofted it too high and incomplete.
2018 Week 12 vs SEA (25 / 30 / 256 / 2 / 1 pass, 8 / 63 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton produced another fine performance against Seattle, beginning the game with 14 straight completions as he displayed poise and confidence throughout. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner made a concerted effort to get Newton involved as a runner early, with zone read plays a feature. Newton bit off chunks of yardage on these plays, with the threat of Christian McCaffrey putting the Seahawks in a bind. An early drive that saw Carolina move down into the red zone ended in disappointment, a Newton scrambled ruled just inches short of the sticks on fourth down. As a passer, Newton was on point and showed excellent chemistry and timing ˝ especially with rookie D.J. Moore and McCaffrey. The offensive line gave Newton a secure pocket to work from, and he took full advantage. His first passing touchdown came in the red zone, Curtis Samuel getting inside leverage on the defensive back as Newton fired a quick slant into his receiverÝs belly. Newton tried to bite off a bit more than he could chew in the third quarter, tossing a crucial red zone interception. The play saw Newton throw a pass high to the back line of the end zone intended for tight end Chris Manhertz, but the Seahawks had excellent coverage. The safety batted the ball down to himself to end the possession. Newton continued to battle and led the Panthers down the field again on a couple of key drives, one culminating in his second touchdown pass, this one to McCaffrey on a wheel route in the right flat.
2018 Week 13 vs TB (28 / 41 / 300 / 2 / 4 pass, 6 / 33 / 0 rush)
An off-colour performance from Cam Newton put the Panthers offense in a hole that they never climbed out of. The Bucs pass rush was intense and relentless throughout, and it appeared to affect every aspect of Newton's throwing motion. His mechanics suffered at times and he often failed to step into throws, including on a horrendous high pass to Devin Funchess on a crucial fourth down late in the game. The offensive line failed to pick up blitzers at times and often put Newton in bad situations, forcing quick throws. His first of four interceptions came on a target intended for D.J. Moore, with the low pass over the middle impressively scooped by a Tampa Bay defender. Newton responded with an excellent drive culminating in a red zone touchdown pass in the right flat to Christian McCaffrey, who dove for the pylon to seal the deal. Penalties and sacks killed a lot of drives, so Newton often how to operate from less-than-ideal platforms. His second pick came on a slant pass intended for Moore, but Newton failed to see a defender dropping into the path of the route. It was easily picked off. Newton bounced back with a zipped pass to Devin Funchess on a slant in the red zone, placing the ball behind the receiver to lead him away from an oncoming defender. Eventually the dam burst for Newton, however, and he threw two more pressure-induced interceptions; the first came on a ball that hung up on the sideline after getting hit, the second came on a lofted pass down the middle intended for Curtis Samuel. Newton was provided opportunities to tie the game late on, but the final nail in the coffin came on a fourth down incomplete pass intended for Devin Funchess. The receiver was wide open down the seam on the play, but Newton fired too high as his mechanics disintegrated at the crucial moment.
2018 Week 14 vs CLE (26 / 42 / 265 / 0 / 1 pass, 5 / 23 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton did a reasonable job dealing with a Browns pass rush that caused the Panthers offensive line some problems, without being overwhelming. Newton started off well, hitting Curtis Samuel on a deep crossing route that showed excellent anticipation. A red zone dart to D.J. Moore looked to be a touchdown, but the receiver dropped it. Newton rarely used his legs in this game but did it effectively when called upon. As the game wore on, Newton struggled hitting outside-breaking routes, the ball at times dying in mid-air. He had similar problems with deep passes, including a toss to Samuel down the left sideline that the receiver had to come back for. Newton and Devin Funchess had a couple of key miscommunications that were indicative of the offense's inconsistencies. Late in the game, Newton became more erratic with his mechanics, two simple passes flying over the heads of his intended receivers. A final red zone opportunity to take the lead went abegging, with Newton missing Samuel on a quick out and Jarius Wright on a crossing pattern. When the offense got one final opportunity, Newton tossed an interception as it appeared he and Funchess were once again seeing different things.
2018 Week 15 vs NO (16 / 29 / 131 / 0 / 1 pass, 5 / 15 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton produced one of the lowest passing yardage totals of his career in a forgettable performance that confirmed just how serious his shoulder injury could be. After a nice downfield dagger to Curtis Samuel on a deep dig route, Newton winced with pain - and it wasn't clear whether it was due to the shoulder or the sandwich of Saints players that had just hit him. Newton favoured short passes from that point on, allowing the Saints to key on the receivers and prevent quick completions. Newton was able to connect with Christian McCaffrey consistently, but the rest of the passing attack was non-existent as Newton threw several balls off the mark. Newton's footwork was poor at times, resulting in off-target passes on simple plays. Some designed runs were built into the offense, but Newton was generally only able to gain ground when the play broke down. His interception was back-breaking for the offense, coming on an end zone target to Devin Funchess at the end of the first half. The cornerback established excellent position on Funchess and played the lofted ball well as it came into his coverage area. Newton had a final opportunity to drive the team down the field in the fourth quarter, but a pair of incomplete passes - with the Saints bringing pressure - put paid to any comeback hopes.
2017 Week 1 vs SF (14 / 25 / 171 / 2 / 1 pass, 6 / 3 / 0 rush)
Comfort was the key for Cam Newton in the early stages, and offensive coordinator Mike Shula's play calls were clearly with his quarterback's confidence in mind. The talents of backfield duo Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey were heavily emphasised as the passing game sputtered in the first few drives. Newton had an early fumble on a center-quarterback exchange, and was nearly intercepted after being baited into a throw by linebacker Reuben Foster. Newton eventually knocked off some of the rust, however, and fired a nice touchdown pass to Russell Shepard. The receiver found a weak spot in the 49ers' zone defense, and Newton's pass gave him the opportunity to juke a defender and score. Typically, Newton's inaccuracies came to the fore at times; his most flagrant error being missing a wide open touchdown pass to tight end Ed Dickson. The offensive line afforded Newton fantastic protection throughout the game, keeping him very clean. When pressured, he showed good poise and vision to keep his eyes downfield and link up with McCaffrey and others. His second touchdown pass came on a well-designed play that exploited the 49ers' attention on McCaffrey. With both McCaffrey and Stewart in the backfield, the rookie pulled away the underneath coverage with a flat route, allowing Stewart to sneak in behind his offensive line mates. Newton had a simple dump off pass to Stewart for the score, who finished impressively by diving over the top. Newton was locked in with his passes in the second half, looking like a totally different player. He delivered on time and accurately to Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess on crucial third down plays to keep drives alive and to salt the game away. His interception was a throw that perhaps he shouldn't have made, but such is his trust in Benjamin he attempted it anyway. It came on a deep route to the burly receiver, but the 49ers' single high safety made a great break on the pass and intercepted it with one hand.
2017 Week 2 vs BUF (20 / 32 / 228 / 0 / 0 pass, 5 / 27 / 0 rush)
The road to recovery continues for Cam Newton, who had to deal with a much stiffer test this week than last. The offensive line gave him ample time early on as he got into a rhythm and fired a laser to Kelvin Benjamin, his favourite target on this day. For every positive play, however, there was a questionable near-interception on a misread, or an overthrow that put the offense in a bad situation. The running attack was mostly shut down by the Bills, so Newton was forced to knock off more rust. At times he linked up very well with Benjamin and Devin Funchess, firing darts on inside-breaking patterns. When the pocket collapsed, Newton showed he is not afraid to use his legs when necessary, dodging a couple of would-be tacklers and diving for first downs. As the game wore on, Newton's protection began to dissolve in front of him and he took a lot of hits. One in particular saw him stay down on the ground; after being checked by the medics, however, he was allowed to return to the action. It was in the red zone that the Bills frustrated Carolina, with zipped passes to Benjamin and Russell Shepard batted down. Newton will have been kicking himself for missing a wide open Christian McCaffrey in the flat for what would have been an easy touchdown. He simply threw the pass too high for the rookie, who was uncovered, to reel it in. Newton also missed a straightforward pass downfield to Ed Dickson. Overall, it was a solid outing from a scattershot Newton, but he will know he is capable of more.
2017 Week 3 vs NO (17 / 26 / 167 / 0 / 3 pass, 3 / 16 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton took a concerning step backwards in his third game back after offseason shoulder surgery, succumbing to crucial errors to give his team no chance. The first drive augured well for the Panthers offense, as a series of runs and misdirection plays had the Saints on their heels. However, on Newton's first dropback pass in the red zone a blown assignment by left tackle Matt Kalil saw the quarterback instantly knocked to the ground. That play shifted the momentum and suddenly the offense looked predictable and conservative. Newton's first interception came soon afterward, a simple slant-flat combination on the right picked off as the Saints defensive back read it perfectly. Newton's pass was a little too far inside and gave the defender an opportunity. Deep targets to Devin Funchess were routinely thrown too far ahead of the receiver for him to have any shot of reaching them. Newton's biggest issue was simply misreading the defense; at times he would force the ball in to a receiver when another popped wide open on the same play. With the offense in comeback mode in the second half, things got ugly fast. Newton's second interception came as he tried to force a pass into Christian McCaffrey. The ball travelled too high out of his hand and got tipped into the air and intercepted with one hand by the Saints. His third pick would follow soon after to put a dagger in the Panthers' chances. Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro was playing a roving role and read the eyes of Newton to step in front of Funchess. The only saving grace for the quarterback was a rushing touchdown off an option look that he finished well, but the problems of this offense are many and start with Newton's rustiness and streaky passing.
2017 Week 4 vs NE (22 / 29 / 316 / 3 / 1 pass, 8 / 44 / 1 rush)
In what was undoubtedly Cam Newton's most complete and crisp game of this young season, the quarterback hardly put a foot wrong. Play calling in the early stages set an aggressive tone for the offense; they were well aware of the weaknesses of the Patriots defense, and set about exploiting them with chunk plays. Newton showed his poise early, looking off the single high safety before firing a strike down the seam to Ed Dickson. The pass protection was crucial throughout the game, with Newton rarely under duress. As such, he was able to survey the field and get the ball out on time and in rhythm. A rare miss on a deep route saw him slightly overthrow Devin Funchess in the end zone, but that was the exception and not the rule on this day. The Patriots defense didn't make many plays to halt Newton, but a poor decision in the first quarter saw Newton give them one for free as he tossed a ball deep right into double coverage. The play was never there, and fortunately the intended receiver Damiere Byrd made the tackle to prevent a big return. From that point on, Newton was locked in and continued to exploit a Patriots defense that dropped assignments constantly. The first of his touchdown passes came on a well-designed screen pass to Fozzy Whittaker. Newton faked a screen to the right to Christian McCaffrey, who the Patriots had focused on, before coming back left to Whittaker, who dashed into the end zone untouched. Newton continued to fire darts between the numbers to Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin, who had no problem bullying Patriots defensive backs. Newton's second touchdown pass was another easy one as Funchess found himself uncovered at the back of the end zone; no Patriots defender was even close to him, and it was a simple throw for the red-hot quarterback. The Panthers incorporated some designed runs into the playbook this week, and Newton looked spry and energetic after earning first downs with his legs. Newton went back to Funchess for his third touchdown pass, firing a bullet pass in the red zone on an inside-breaking route. The pass was slightly behind Funchess, but the receiver made it look easy as he reached back and secured the ball. The scoring wasn't over for Newton, who added an old school touchdown run on a veer play. Newton faked to McCaffrey and held it in the belly as long as he could before pulling the ball out and knifing up the middle from 10 yards out. Newton would not be denied, barrelling over a couple of Patriots tacklers.
2017 Week 5 vs DET (26 / 33 / 355 / 3 / 0 pass, 7 / 0 / 0 rush)
All eyes were on Cam Newton in this game to see how he would respond, not only to off field criticism, but to pundits who dismissed his performance against New England as a fluke. The seventh-year quarterback put those critics in their place with another near-flawless display. It seems Newton is well and truly back from his shoulder surgery and looked poised throughout behind a well-drilled offensive line. With that platform to work from, Newton eschewed the short to intermediate passes and instead made his intentions clear with chunk plays. It was Ed Dickson who was the beneficiary for the most part, as Newton peppered him with passes down the seam. The play calling of Mike Shula allowed the Panthers to keep the Lions defense off balance, with a naked bootleg toss to Dickson for a huge gain on 3rd and short a prime example. Shula's call for Newton's first touchdown pass was one of sheer brilliance. Set up in the red zone, Newton took the shotgun snap and veered left with Jonathan Stewart looking ready to accept an option pitch. All the while, Christian McCaffrey was moving right to left and sneaked behind the offensive line to receive a shovel pass from Newton for the score. The initial movement had the Lions defenders in a bind, and McCaffrey was unaccounted for. As Newton began to get into his stride, he tossed a second red zone touchdown pass to Devin Funchess. Newton had ample time to go through his reads, but had to buy time after his first couple were covered. Funchess adjusted his route smartly and Newton fired a bullet pass Űabove the rim' to his tall receiver, who came down with a tough catch. Newton's third touchdown pass was a thing of beauty as he lofted up another arced, high pass to Kelvin Benjamin streaking down the left sideline. Benjamin established position at the snap, giving Newton a green light to throw up a rainbow. Benjamin answered the call and made an impressive catch. Newton would maintain his composure on the game-clinching third down play, zipping a pass to Benjamin on a slant route to cap a magnificent display.
2017 Week 6 vs PHI (28 / 52 / 239 / 1 / 3 pass, 11 / 71 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton started the game in comfortable fashion, reading the field well and not forcing anything against a hyper-aggressive defense. However, as the game wore on, some familiar flaws began to resurface. The Eagles pass rush gave the Panthers offensive line fits throughout, with Newton often having to keep extra blockers in to chip the edge rushers. When they got too aggressive, Newton would smartly take off running and get what he could with his legs. The rushing attack was completely shut down for anyone not named Newton, so it was on the former MVP's shoulders to run the offense. Newton connected early and often with Kelvin Benjamin, who continued to exploit soft coverage on the outside for small chunks of yardage. The issue with the offense was that it couldn't muster any more than chunks; at one point in the third quarter, Newton completed a pass for 19 yards which at that time was the longest play. Newton managed to get into the end zone for a rushing touchdown, using the threat of an option pitch outside to sprint up the middle, juking a defender out of his shoes on the way. It would all go downhill from that point, with Newton tossing three interceptions, one of which was not his fault. The first came after Fletcher Cox bull rushed right guard Trai Turner back into Newton's lap. The attempted pass came out wobbly and landed in the grateful hands of an Eagles defensive back. The second pick was a simple pass into the flat for Jonathan Stewart, who somehow saw it bounce off his hand and into a defender's arms. The third pick was symptomatic of the way the game was flowing; pressure had been building steadily throughout, and Newton simply forced a throw over the middle against a blitz, with no Panthers receiver in the vicinity. The protection really broke down as the game went on, and with no running game to speak of there was little respite. Newton tossed a pitch and catch touchdown pass to Christian McCaffrey to make things interesting in the fourth quarter, but followed that up by missing McCaffrey with a low pass on a game-deciding fourth down. It was an ugly game for the offense despite the 23 points scored, and Newton will have been disappointed with his performance against the blitz.
2017 Week 7 vs CHI (21 / 34 / 211 / 0 / 2 pass, 9 / 50 / 0 rush)
This was a game defined by steadily building pressure, which eventually forced Cam Newton and the Panthers' shaky foundations to break down and collapse. Newton did himself no favours at times, holding the football far too long in the pocket and inviting sacks, hits and hurries. A reshuffled offensive line was forced upon the unit when center Ryan Kalil had to leave the game with a reaggravation of his neck injury, while Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner was also forced off. A patchwork line did a poor job of protecting Newton throughout the game, meaning short throws were the order of the day. The ground game was a futile endeavour once again, so the burden fell on an off-colour Newton to lead the offense. What looked like a promising opening possession, however, was ended abruptly after an option pitch to Curtis Samuel was dropped and fumbled, eventually being recovered by the Bears for a touchdown. The afternoon would get worse for the offense. Newton was at fault for his first interception, forcing a pass on a slant in to Kelvin Benjamin, who was blanketed by good coverage on the play. The cornerback popped the ball out and it flew into the air, landing in a grateful Chicago player's arms. He would waste no time in returning that for a touchdown as well. With the offense in desperation mode, the Panthers went to more quick-hitting passes and Newton designed runs. However, the Bears were prepared for it and seemed to suck the life out of Newton with punishing hit after punishing hit. A shell-shocked Newton eventually caved in, as he rolled right and tossed an interception straight to a Bears linebacker, who couldn't believe his luck.
2017 Week 8 vs TB (18 / 32 / 154 / 1 / 1 pass, 11 / 44 / 0 rush)
There was very little to write home about after a ho-hum performance from Cam Newton against the Bucs. A stifling effort from the defense allowed the Panthers to play sound but rather pedestrian football offensively. The offense could have produced more big plays downfield, but Newton continued to show his scattershot accuracy by firing passes out of the reach of his receivers on third down. It appeared every third down called for a deep pass, as Newton rarely scanned the underneath patterns to convert and keep the chains moving. Newton linked up very well with Christian McCaffrey at the end of the first half, trusting his shifty weapon to win against linebackers - which he did routinely. Newton tossed an interception on a target for Ed Dickson, an outside-breaking deeper pass that simply lacked the zip and accuracy required. The ball - too far inside - allowed Chris Conte to pick it off. Newton was afforded good protection for the most part and played within himself otherwise. He ran the ball effectively on zone read plays, and showed great juice and footwork on the Panthers' clinching touchdown drive. Newton tossed his lone touchdown pass of the game to Kelvin Benjamin on a deep, lofted pass in the red zone. Benjamin was standing in front of the defensive back, who had no chance to play through the receiver to make the breakup.
2017 Week 9 vs ATL (13 / 24 / 137 / 0 / 0 pass, 9 / 86 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton relied more on his legs than his arm to move the Carolina offense, with designed quarterback runs a staple of the strategy. An early draw - with a lead block from Christian McCaffrey - saw Newton come out of his shell. After a couple of typically inaccurate passes on short throws, another big run off a naked bootleg reignited his confidence. The offense sputtered early in large part due to two Jonathan Stewart fumbles, but Newton kept them moving with key throws, including a sideline dart to Curtis Samuel that would have been picked if not for Newton's high-end arm strength. Newton executed an option pitch for a touchdown to McCaffrey very smoothly, flicking the football nonchalantly with his left hand to allow the rookie to run on to it for the score. A high-flying Newton would cash in himself on the next drive, seeing a crease in the red zone and diving over the top for the touchdown. The ball came loose at the end of the play, but by then it had already broken the plane. It was a risky move by the quarterback, but it paid off handsomely. The Panthers offense clicked much better in the second half, with Newton linking up well with McCaffrey and Devin Funchess. However, for the most part it was a game of keep away, with Newton's role as a passer minimised.
2017 Week 10 vs MIA (21 / 35 / 254 / 4 / 0 pass, 5 / 95 / 0 rush)
In what was a controlled and mature performance from Cam Newton, the offense really came together in every way possible. After an early hiccup or two with inaccurate passes, Newton fired a pass off play action into Russell Shepard that seemed to ignite him. The Panthers utilized his legs once again on the quarterback draw on a few occasions, and he was able to break off a 50+-yard scamper late in the game on a zone read play. Newton was fortunate not to be picked off on a throw back across his body in the red zone; the defensive back allowed the ball to trickle free of his grasp. A couple of inaccurate throws ˝ one to Ed Dickson and the other to Curtis Samuel ˝ would have frustrated Newton, but he bounced back. His first touchdown pass was an incredible job of ball placement on a post route to Dickson in the red zone. Newton fired the pass high and away from the defender, and Dickson made his quarterback look good with a sprawling grab. Newton could have added a touchdown pass on a perfect pass to Curtis Samuel in the end zone had the rookie not dropped the ball. Newton's second touchdown pass came on a wonderfully executed bubble screen after an audible. Seeing an all out blitz look from Miami, Newton changed the play and had only to flick the ball out to Devin Funchess, who scooted up the sideline to score. Newton's third touchdown pass came on a zipped effort to Christian McCaffrey, who had run a quick out. Newton rolled that direction and fired a low ball to the rookie, who impressively hauled it in with two knees down. Newton finished off what was a near-perfect game with a back shoulder pass to Funchess for a fourth score. The cornerback in coverage was in no man's land, and the ball placement was such that Funchess could twist away and score easily.
2017 Week 12 vs NYJ (11 / 28 / 168 / 0 / 0 pass, 9 / 28 / 1 rush)
It was a day of ups and downs for Cam Newton, whose reported thumb injury during the week may have affected his performance. His accuracy was poor for the entire game, with many throws out of his receivers' reach. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula's play calling seemed to be a tacit admission of Newton's issues, with more designed quarterback runs to mitigate things. Newton appeared to be a beat late on a number of throws, with an end zone target to Greg Olsen the standout. Olsen was wide open by most standards and what should have been a simple pitch and catch went over Olsen's head. In the pocket Newton made some poor decisions and looked antsy against the pass rush, at times turning his back and retreating from pressure. Newton managed to salvage his day with a naked bootleg off the left side for a rushing touchdown with the offense set up at the Jets 1-yard line. The second half saw the offense sputter once again, only to be bailed out by a defensive touchdown and a special teams touchdown.
2017 Week 13 vs NO (17 / 27 / 183 / 2 / 0 pass, 6 / 51 / 0 rush)
It was a mixed bag for Cam Newton in the critical division road game against New Orleans. The game script was negative early as Carolina trailed by 14 points by the middle of the second quarter. Newton had his moments of accurate passes, but critical plays were left on the field either by Newton's inaccuracy or dropped passes. Newton threw a bullet to Kaelin Clay on a third down slant early in the game and a deep out to Brenton Bersin, a throw not many quarterbacks can complete with such ease. However, Newton notably underthrew Damiere Byrd on a deep route, a likely touchdown, which was tipped away by the defensive back catching up to the play. A well-thrown seam pass by Newton to Russell Shepard was also dropped. As a runner, Newton had a 10-yard rush called back by penalty, a long rush of 30 yards, and shed a rusher to find Ed Dickson as an outlet receiver. For the fourth time over the last five games, Newton did not surpass 200 passing yards. On the plus side, Newton avoided turning the ball over for the fourth straight game. Minnesota offers arguably the toughest passing test for Carolina of the season next week.
2017 Week 14 vs MIN (13 / 25 / 137 / 1 / 1 pass, 11 / 70 / 0 rush)
An erratic display from Cam Newton contributed to an offensive performance that was bereft of any semblance of rhythm. The Vikings dared the Panthers to throw the ball outside the numbers all game long, often deploying their safeties comically close to the line of scrimmage. Newton took a few deep shots, but each time they were well covered. For the most part the pass protection gave Newton the platform to make throws; they simply weren't there, or he would fade back and invite pressure rather than stepping up in the pocket. He managed to connect on a beautiful back shoulder pass down the left sideline to Devin Funchess to set up a touchdown, but would follow that up with a scattershot heave downfield to nobody in particular. The rushing attack was doing its part, but the Panthers had several three-and-out drives in the second half as they were nursing a lead. Newton's lone touchdown pass came on a good improvisational play in the red zone. Detecting pressure, Newton faded back in the pocket, evaded a sack and tossed a laser to a wide open Funchess on the goal line. It was an ill-advised throw in the circumstances, but Newton did well to buy time and make a play. Newton tossed a late interception on what appeared to be a simple pass to Christian McCaffrey after leaving the football too high. The quarterback would make up for his error on the Panthers' final possession, sprinting 62 yards downfield after making a man miss with an incredible open field move. It wasn't a clean game from Newton, but he did enough.
2017 Week 15 vs GB (20 / 31 / 242 / 4 / 0 pass, 14 / 58 / 0 rush)
In one of his cleanest games in a while, Cam Newton was good value for every one of his four touchdown tosses against the Packers. Newton started off with good rhythm, mixing run and pass well, including a key 10-yard scramble for a first down. Relying on the soft hands and route-running of Greg Olsen and the shiftiness of Christian McCaffrey, Newton looked to be in the groove. He capitalised with his first touchdown pass, a rocket shot to McCaffrey on a Texas route after matriculating the ball down the field. No Packers defender was close to the rookie, who waltzed in. Newton's cadence was giving the Packers trouble; in all, the visitors were called for four offsides penalties. Showing good control and poise, Newton took what the defense gave him. However, he seemed to throw caution to the wind in the second half, as the play calling got more aggressive. A 30-yard touchdown pass, his second, came on a busted coverage as Olsen blew past the Packers coverage. Newton's third touchdown pass came soon after, a bullet pass to the back of the end zone to Damiere Byrd. Newton would finish with a flourish, adding a fourth - again to Byrd - on a skinny post route. It was a thoroughly professional display from the quarterback, who was afforded excellent protection and benefited from a rock solid ground game.
2017 Week 16 vs TB (16 / 25 / 160 / 0 / 1 pass, 14 / 52 / 1 rush)
It was a game of ups and downs for Cam Newton, who went through everything from a hit to his family jewels to fumbling the shotgun snap ˝ but somehow still scoring ˝ on the game-deciding touchdown. Newton appeared to have picked up where he left off against Green Bay and Minnesota with his early passes, but things steadily went downhill. Pressure from Tampa Bay started to surface some of Newton's bad habits, and he held the ball too long on a few occasions, taking one unnecessary sack that pushed Carolina out of field goal range. The offense, after being clinical in the red zone in recent weeks, sputtered in this area and had to settle for field goals. Newton's decision-making was often a beat late and in the second half there was a much greater emphasis on using his talents as a runner. Several designed quarterback runs and option plays seemed to ignite a fire in him. He tossed his only interception of the game on a downfield shot to Brenton Bersin, who initially caught the pass, only to have it knocked out and picked off by a pursuing Buccaneers defender. To Newton's credit, he really turned it on in the final three minutes with the game on the line, tossing laser passes downfield for big chunks. With the game on the line, Newton took the shotgun snap from the Tampa Bay 1-yard line, fumbled it forwards and then scooped it up for a rushing touchdown. The play perhaps summed up the day for Newton who, despite his many hiccups during the game, found a way.
2017 Week 17 vs ATL (14 / 34 / 180 / 1 / 3 pass, 11 / 59 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton played one of the poorer games of his career in his hometown, consistently leaving receivers out to dry with his errant passes. His inaccuracy was apparent early on; even from a clean pocket, he was calibrating his targets a few inches too high. Newton's lazy footwork - not stepping into the throw with his front foot - seemed to be the culprit, with the strong-armed passer relying too much on that asset. The only way the Panthers could move the ball early was with Newton's legs. Atlanta continued to shut down the passing attack with strong man to man coverage. This led to repeated third-and-long situations, which the undermanned receiving corps and Newton simply could not overcome. Even Greg Olsen couldn't get on the same page as his quarterback; the two seemed to be out of sync on several key throws. A passing touchdown after a passionate sideline rallying cry ignited some life into the offense, as Newton fired a bullet pass on a slant to Devin Funchess in the end zone. The inside handoff fake was executed to perfection, giving Newton an open throwing window. Newton seemed to lose confidence as the game went on, and tossed three interceptions, the most unforgivable of which came on a routine pass down the middle. It appeared he and the intended receiver, Brenton Bersin, were not on the same page at all, and it was an easy pick for the defender. The second came on a high target to Olsen, who made an attempt to bring the ball in one-handed, but saw it bounce off his paws and into an Atlanta defender's hands. The final nail in the coffin came with less than 30 seconds remaining, a hopeful pass to the front left pylon intended for Funchess. It was an ugly performance from Newton, who has a penchant for producing these games from time to time.
2017 Week 18 vs NO (24 / 40 / 349 / 2 / 0 pass, 8 / 37 / 0 rush)
Coping as best as he could with a depleted receiving corps, Cam Newton showed vast improvement from last week against Atlanta. The Panthers looked to get him into a rhythm with some zone read plays and designed runs early, but the Saints kept these under wraps for the most part. It was as a passer, especially towards the end of the game, when Newton shone. A pinpoint pass to Greg Olsen on the sideline - low and away from the defender ˝ augured well for what was to come. The Panthers offense, as it has all season, consisted of little chunks of yardage and Newton was often asked to convert tricky third downs. An early end zone shot to Kaelin Clay should have been a touchdown, but it was dropped by the receiver. As the Panthers saw the deficit on the scoreboard widen, Newton and the offense had to go more pass-heavy. With that Newton dealt with more pressure and took a couple of unnecessary sacks. Still, he managed to battle on and hit Olsen for a beautiful touchdown pass on a stick and nod route in the red zone. He added a second touchdown pass with a quick ball to Christian McCaffrey, with the rookie turning on the jets to reach the end zone. Newton got clocked in the head late in the game and appeared to be concussed, but he came back into the game. Newton managed to orchestrate a successful final drive, but was called for intentional grounding that essentially ended the game. Overall, it was a clean game from Newton, who will rue the lack of red zone success as the Saints blanketed the Carolina weapons effectively.
2016 Week 1 vs DEN (18 / 33 / 194 / 1 / 1 pass, 11 / 54 / 1 rush)
It was the classic tale of two halves for a battered and bruised Cam Newton, who guided the Panthers offense to an early lead, only to see it evaporate in front of him. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula had a solid game plan to calm Newton down early and get him comfortable, utilizing the zone read rushing attack to give the quarterback some early touches. Newton made excellent reads off the so-called 'belly option' and managed to use the Broncos' aggressive up the field rush against them. Newton tossed his first touchdown pass of the season to Kelvin Benjamin - who he enjoyed a terrific rapport with throughout ˝ on a perfect post route in the red zone. Benjamin established inside leverage off the snap, allowing Newton to fire early on a high pass that only Benjamin could snag. The offensive line's protection was crucial on the play; Newton had a clean pocket to step into the throw in rhythm. The pressure began to build on Newton as the half wore on, but for the most part he coped well with it, either throwing the ball away or releasing it just a beat before a Denver defender could reach him. His best play in this regard was a pass to Greg Olsen where Newton had to roll left to escape a blitzing T.J. Ward, then loft a pass into the tight end's hands. Newton capitalized on his second red zone opportunity, taking the football around the right end to the pylon on a designed quarterback sweep. The seal block from Ted Ginn on the edge was enough to get Newton over the goal line. Newton played well in the two-minute drill, releasing the ball quickly and not allowing the Broncos pass rush to get to him. A punishing hit in the third quarter seemed to rattle Newton, and he never quite fully recovered his poise from that point on. A series of helmet-to-helmet hits followed, with only one being called as a penalty. Newton's interception came on a brilliant play by Denver CB Chris Harris Jr., who met intended target Benjamin at the catch point and caught the fluttering pass just before it hit the turf. The ball was thrown a little behind Benjamin, but it was a catchable pass; it was simply an incredible play by Harris. To Newton's credit, despite the constant heat from the Broncos' blitzes he led the offense down the field in the final seconds of the game and set them up for a potential game-winning field goal. The offense seemed to go into its shell a bit in the second half, but Newton's performance was not the reason the Panthers lost the game.
2016 Week 2 vs SF (24 / 40 / 353 / 4 / 1 pass, 6 / 37 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton started the game off in inauspicious circumstances, firing a pass to Ed Dickson that was deflected and landed in the hands of a 49ers safety for an interception. The pass was a little late, but Navorro Bowman deserves credit for reading the play and closing in for the deflection. The Panthers offense found their rhythm soon after that, with zone read concepts and quick completions settling Newton down. They soon opened it up downfield, and Newton was unfortunate not to have a touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr. after dropping the football perfectly in the bucket on a deep pass. Ginn failed to get his second foot in bounds. Newton would a few plays later miss a wide open Greg Olsen on third-and-long, putting too much air under the pass. Newton would respond almost instantly, lofting a beautiful pass to a streaking Olsen, who had no 49ers defender within five yards of him when he made the catch for a 78-yard score. It was an excellent job of identifying the defensive breakdown by Newton. Throughout the game Newton was afforded excellent pass protection, and it led to a series of big plays, with Kelvin Benjamin in particular prospering. Newton and his favorite target connected on a series of inside-breaking patterns, with Benjamin's size and body position too much for defensive backs to deal with. Set up in the red zone, Newton's second touchdown pass was a low dart to Benjamin, who had to stoop to reel in the football. The off coverage offered Benjamin enough room to run the out pattern, and enough time was given to Newton to fire the ball in on time. The pair connected again for Newton's third touchdown pass, another pinpoint accurate throw between Benjamin's numbers. It was another red zone opportunity, and Benjamin simply got in front of his defensive back on a quick slant, Newton firing in the football on time. Newton would toss a fourth touchdown pass to Devin Funchess on a beautifully placed back shoulder pass, putting the ball above the rim for the six-foot-four receiver to attack. Newton had a bad fumble after scrambling as he failed to secure the ball with both hands. He was chased down from behind and the ball was stripped out, eventually being recovered by the 49ers. It was a controlled display from the quarterback, who made good decisions under pressure for the most part and took what the defense gave him.
2016 Week 3 vs MIN (21 / 35 / 262 / 0 / 3 pass, 7 / 26 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton endured a torrid day against the Vikings, struggling to find any open targets as a disciplined defense suffocated the offense. In all, he was sacked eight times and was under duress on almost every dropback as the Panthers had to go into pass-first mode late in the game. The beginning of the game looked like a typical Carolina home game, with Newton leading a straightforward pair of drives, one for a field goal and one for a touchdown. On the latter, Newton lofted a beautiful pass over the shoulder of Corey Brown on a deep corner route, setting up the offense inside the 10. Newton finished the drive off with a walk-in touchdown on a zone read, and it appeared as though Carolina would roll. However, as the game wore on Newton became increasingly skittish as the Vikings confused him and the offensive line with various blitz packages. The double A gap blitz look in particular caused serious issues. Even when Newton had time, he seemed uncertain of his progression and often there was simply nowhere to go with the ball as the Vikings blanketed receivers downfield. Newton's errant play was summed up by an interception to end the half; he never seemed to step into the throw, his poor mechanics resulting in a lofty pass down the sideline to Ted Ginn Jr., who was undercut by the defensive back. His day would only get uglier in the second half, as the Vikings really turned up the heat. With a blitzer bearing down on him, Newton tossed a sideline pass intended for Ginn and was picked off again, Terence Newman sinking underneath the out route. With Newton beginning to force throws, the offense sputtered towards the end of the game. The Vikings happily surrendered short completions, but the typically vertical Panthers attack simply had no opportunities. On the rare occasion they did, Devin Funchess and others would let the team down, albeit the passes were often outside the numbers and difficult to haul in. The final nail in Newton's coffin came in the waning moments as he tossed his third interception. With another blitz in his face, he tossed the football up for grabs. It landed in the arms of a defensive lineman, who essentially iced the game despite fumbling it out of bounds. Newton was physically beaten and bruised throughout, with his mechanics suffering as a result.
2016 Week 4 vs ATL (14 / 25 / 165 / 1 / 0 pass, 5 / 30 / 0 rush)
It was one of the more forgettable days in the career of Cam Newton, as the Falcons defense set the tone early and made him antsy. His pocket presence was lacking after some early shots across the bow from the Falcons pass rush, and he never seemed to settle in to the game. His footwork in particular was an issue, as it led to scattershot accuracy on what should be simple passes. The offensive line struggled to blow open holes with the rushing attack, so Newton was forced into long third down situations ˝ and he didn't deal with them very well. He zipped a lovely pass in to Kelvin Benjamin on a quick slant for a rare third down conversion, but would later overshoot Ted Ginn, who was wide open on a shallow cross. To the credit of the Atlanta defense, they successfully defended the zone read and delivered a blow to Newton on one keeper in particular. Newton started to regain some confidence in the no huddle, eventually culminating in a zipped red zone pass on a slant to Benjamin, who had established inside leverage on his defender. The timing and accuracy of the pass were rare exceptions in Newton's mechanics in a game otherwise littered with problems. Newton sustained a concussion, ending his day, on the subsequent two-point conversion. In a flashback to a similar play against the Saints two seasons ago, Newton seemed to let up as he reached the goal line, and a Falcons defender flew into Newton at eye level, delivering a vicious helmet-to-helmet shot. Newton managed to reach the ball across the goal line for the conversion, but quickly left the game.
2016 Week 6 vs NO (27 / 47 / 322 / 2 / 1 pass, 2 / 1 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton looked a little uneasy to begin the game as a familiar pattern began to unfold: offensive line issues. The Saints edge rushers quickly made Newton move off the spot in the pocket, and he was often forced to retreat or take sacks against the rush as both offensive tackles struggled. Inaccuracy began to creep into some of Newton's throws, notably a deep shot to Ted Ginn Jr. that was left badly underthrown and should have been a touchdown. When he had a chance to operate from a clean pocket, he showed terrific chemistry with Kelvin Benjamin, who he peppered with passes from the get-go. The Panthers turned to the no-huddle when they trailed 21-0, and Newton seemed to pick up some momentum and rhythm with this approach. Newton was picked off on a red zone possession that could have made the game closer in the first half, but his floated pass intended for Devin Funchess was intercepted. The cornerback had excellent position on Funchess and was able to run under the football on the fade pattern, but Newton will have expected better from his six-four wideout. Newton, undeterred by Funchess' mistake, came back to him and fired a strike for his first touchdown pass between two defenders. Set up in the red zone, Newton quickly recognised a breakdown in coverage, giving Funchess an easy inside release with no safety help. The pass was perfect and on time for the score. Newton tossed his second touchdown pass as the Panthers found themselves on the Saints 1-yard line. In an unbelievable effort, Newton rolled left and just when it appeared he was throwing it away he lofted the ball up to Ed Dickson at the back of the end zone. Dickson and Mike Tolbert were the intended receivers on the play action pass, but both fell down in the first few seconds of the play. To Newton's credit, he kept the play alive and lofted an incredible improvised pass. Newton grew stronger as the game wore on, and despite not being involved as a runner he finished the game with a touchdown using his legs. In what has become a staple of the Carolina offense, Newton scrambled right with the Panthers at the 1-yard line of New Orleans and outpaced Cameron Jordan to the pylon. He reached the ball across the goal line for the score, but it was an incredibly athletic effort.
2016 Week 8 vs ARI (14 / 27 / 212 / 0 / 0 pass, 7 / 43 / 0 rush)
A controlled display by Cam Newton had the Panthers offense looking like its 2015 best, as a healthy mix of quick passes, zone read runs and play action settled him in. Newton zipped some beautiful passes into tight windows throughout the game, showcasing good timing and rhythm on his dropbacks. A designed quarterback run ˝ which seems to have been reinstalled into the offense after Newton's concussion saw him dash and weave around defenders for a 19-yard carry. In the red zone Newton was unable to notch any touchdown passes as the Panthers' rushing attack took the lead. Newton was unfortunate to be tackled short of the goal line on two designed quarterback runs in the red zone. He will have been frustrated after he missed a wide open Jonathan Stewart on a wheel route in the red zone. The pass sailed a little too high for the back to see it in to his hands. Newton never looked uncomfortable in this game as the offensive line stoned pass rushers, and he managed to maintain a good platform for throwing downfield. He was let down on a couple of occasions with drops, notably a perfectly zipped pass to Fozzy Whittaker that would have extended a drive. With the team nursing a comfortable lead, Newton played it conservatively in the second half. The numbers may not indicate it, but this was Newton at close to his best.
2016 Week 9 vs LA (20 / 32 / 225 / 1 / 0 pass, 7 / 16 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton registered an uneven performance in a game defined by a lack of flow on offense. The Los Angeles pass rush - and Aaron Donald in particular - put heat on the Panthers undermanned offensive line, delivering a few hits early to set the tone for the game. The pattern continued throughout, with Newton's footwork and accuracy becoming more erratic as he struggled to find open receivers. When he was afforded time, he zipped some beautiful passes on time and between the numbers. A strike on a skinny post route to Kelvin Benjamin showed great anticipation and accuracy and was one of Newton's finest throws of the game. Other than a select few plays like this, however, his game was defined by inconsistency. Passes routinely flew over receivers' heads or out of bounds. In the second half, a deep shot in Devin Funchess' direction should have been a touchdown, but Newton had too much air on the ball and it soared over the receiver's head. With the traditional rushing attack being stonewalled time and again, the zone read rushing attack was implemented as a change-up with little success. In a game of few opportunities, Newton took his best one when it presented itself as he threw a strike for a touchdown to Greg Olsen. Set up in the red zone, Olsen juked the defender in coverage and got an inside release. Newton identified the single high safety had cheated to the opposite side of the field and quickly fired it in to a wide open Olsen. It was a simple pitch and catch and a throw you would expect every quarterback to make.
2016 Week 10 vs KC (23 / 38 / 261 / 1 / 1 pass, 12 / 54 / 1 rush)
When Cam Newton had a clean pocket, he showed tremendous zip and timing to keep the offense in rhythm. The Panthers could not run the ball effectively via traditional methods, so as the game wore on they began to lean on Newton's prowess as a rushing threat. It paid off early with a 28-yard scamper on a bootleg after the Chiefs bit inside on a run fake. Newton would get the nod in the red zone as the Panthers opted for the direct route. Running behind the right side of the line and Mike Tolbert, the six-five quarterback was initially stopped, but powered through contact and reached out for the goal line. As a passer, Newton's accuracy was excellent as he consistently fired passes exactly where they needed to be, with he and Kelvin Benjamin beating the Chiefs cornerbacks like a drum with well-placed inside patterns. Newton had a few inadvisable throws which were dripping with error potential, but at least in the first half he got away with them. A quick pass to the outside for Ted Ginn Jr. was the most egregious of such throws, with the Chiefs cornerback reading the quarterback's intentions. As the Carolina offense continued to hum, Newton fired a beautiful, lofted pass to Devin Funchess for a 38-yard touchdown. The safety and cornerback appeared to be lost on the play, but Funchess did well to snag the ball at the highest point ˝ and the pass from Newton was perfect. The second half saw a more engaged Chiefs defense cause problems for the weak Panthers offensive line, as pressure became a thorn in their side. Newton's worst error of the game came when, getting pressure up the middle, he tossed the football up for grabs down the left sideline. Eric Berry undercut the route and returned it all the way for a touchdown to change the game completely. Newton's footwork let him down on the pass; he did not step into the throw and the decision was the worst possible one he could make.
2016 Week 11 vs NO (14 / 33 / 192 / 1 / 0 pass, 5 / 7 / 0 rush)
It proved to be another inconsistent game for Cam Newton, who at times shot passes into receivers like bullets and at others looked all at sea in the pocket. There is a lack of confidence permeating Newton's game at the moment, with his lack of trust in the offensive line the culprit. On an early goal line opportunity that rushed process in Newton's head made him rush through his progressions and miss a wide open Ed Dickson in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Instead, he lost focus quickly as his eyes dropped to look at the oncoming rushers. A calamitous red zone possession that included Newton inexplicably rolling out left and taking a huge shot summed things up for the offense. To his credit, he was able to connect on some beautiful strikes to Kelvin Benjamin, Greg Olsen and Devin Funchess as the offense slowly picked up the pace. Newton played a small role as a runner, but in general Jonathan Stewart was handed the bulk of the carries - to little effect. Newton dropped a dime of a touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr., one of the best throws he has ever made. Hanging in the collapsing pocket as hands groped at him, an undaunted Newton heaved the ball on a high arc to the back line of the end zone. Ginn was able to blaze past the safety and run under the perfectly weighted pass for the score. The offense played keep away for most of the second half, limiting Newton's opportunities. However, he would zip a pass into Benjamin on 3rd and 10 with about 2:30 left to salt the game away. The throw encapsulated what a dominant passer Newton can be when given proper protection.
2016 Week 12 vs OAK (14 / 29 / 246 / 2 / 1 pass, 3 / 6 / 1 rush)
In the face of relentless pressure from a feisty Oakland front seven, Cam Newton steadily grew into the game after a horrid start. His accuracy was spotty early on, with passes fluttering too high for his intended receivers to haul in. He was often forced off the spot and the pocket collapsed on occasion, but he stood tall and delivered strikes as the game wore on. Two injuries on an already depleted offensive line did not help matters, and the pressure told in the final seconds as Newton took a game-ending sack. Prior to that, Newton kept a cool head to lead the Panthers back from a 17-point deficit. For his first touchdown pass he found a streaking Ted Ginn Jr. down the seam, laying the ball out in front of him so he could use his sprinter speed to reach pay dirt. The 88-yard strike came after Newton was afforded decent - but not ideal - protection. He tacked on a second touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin, heaving a deep ball hopefully in the tall receiver's direction. Benjamin outfought the defensive back in the air and impressively came down with the bomb. Newton had a horrific mistake at the end of the first half, throwing a pick six to Khalil Mack who took over this game with his all-around play. The play was a screen pass that Mack read perfectly, snatching the ball in the air and running in a short distance. Newton added a rushing touchdown to his day after he followed a good block from left tackle Mike Remmers off the left side on a sweep. Newton seemed to gain confidence in the face of adversity, and the Panthers offensive line - along with quicker releases and shorter drops - helped him rally the offense.
2016 Week 13 vs SEA (14 / 32 / 182 / 1 / 0 pass, 3 / 12 / 0 rush)
Due to a dress code violation Newton did not see the field on the first snap, and it proved to be a horrible start for the offense as Derek Anderson came in and promptly threw an interception. It would be a game to forget for Cam Newton and the offense, which simply lacked the precision necessary to string together drives against a defense like Seattle's. Despite the makeshift offensive line he had to play behind, Newton showed decent poise at times and was afforded enough time to find targets downfield. However, he would often hesitate at the crucial moment and his late flings of the football resulted in drops and incompletions as his mechanics faltered. The pass rush began to affect his throws in the second half, and he heaved a couple of balls up for grabs ñ one of which Earl Thomas should have picked off. His lone high point of the game was a beautifully floated touchdown pass to Ted Ginn Jr., who outran the safeties in Tampa-2 coverage. The arc of the pass allowed Ginn to run under it for an easy score. An interception thrown by Newton in the second half was saved by a defensive pass interference penalty, but in general his accuracy was scattershot and left his receivers with a lot of work to do. His footwork became increasingly sloppy and eventually the offense went into a shell and accepted its fate.
2016 Week 14 vs SD (10 / 27 / 160 / 1 / 1 pass, 8 / 31 / 0 rush)
After the debacle in Seattle, Cam Newton appeared more poised and comfortable than he has been in weeks. A rhythm pass to the sideline to find Greg Olsen early seemed to get him focused, and his accuracy remained solid for the remainder of the game. A much improved display from the offensive line was instrumental in his confidence from the pocket; there were few dropbacks where he seemed harried or under undue pressure. The emphasis on the ground attack - with Newton playing his part as well - seemed to settle him down. With that solid platform to build off, Newton led the Panthers to a handful of red zone opportunities. The passing game stalled in that area of the field, with San Diego's defensive backs clamping down and Carolina's receivers unable to get open. However, Newton did hit one spectacular pass to Devin Funchess in the red zone, a zipped ball on a skinny post that gave the defensive back no chance. Newton came within inches of a rushing touchdown in the red zone, a quarterback draw coming agonisingly short of the paint. Newton tossed one interception in the red zone on a target for Kelvin Benjamin. The big receiver ran an out pattern, but the route appeared lazy and Newton's pass was too far inside to begin with. It gave the defensive back the opportunity to attack, and he did so to pick it off. It appeared as though the defensive back had scored a touchdown, but Benjamin had touched him down by contact. It was one of the only blemishes on an otherwise clean day from Newton.
2016 Week 15 vs WAS (21 / 37 / 300 / 2 / 0 pass, 3 / 0 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton enjoyed a comfortable game, his confidence in the pocket buttressed by an offensive line that afforded him ample time. The makeshift line gave him a clean pocket to survey the field, and he took advantage with chunk plays downfield time and again. The offense clicked early with strikes downfield to Greg Olsen and excellent, physical downhill running from Jonathan Stewart. Newton, who came into the game with a shoulder issue, seemed to hurt it on a hit. After that play, the running game revolved around Stewart and allowed Newton more opportunities off play action. Despite the shoulder issue, Newton looked comfortable firing darts all over the field. His first touchdown pass came on a strike down the middle to Ted Ginn Jr., who had been left alone by the Washington defense after a coverage breakdown. Continuing to feast on intermediate strikes to move the offense downfield, Newton settled for a short pass for his second touchdown. It was a straightforward flip into the flat to Mike Tolbert, who had sneaked out off play action from the one-yard line. Newton showed excellent touch on the pass, however, something he has struggled with mightily in recent weeks. That was the case for the entirety of the game; a beautifully floated ball into Fozzy Whittaker on a wheel route was another good example of his touch and accuracy. In what might have been his best game of the season, Newton showed his toughness and grit in the face of injury.
2016 Week 16 vs ATL (18 / 43 / 198 / 1 / 2 pass, 8 / 36 / 0 rush)
A scattershot Cam Newton was unable to carry forward the positive momentum from the performance against the Redskins, instead regressing in a putrid display at home. It was the usual inconsistencies from Newton: poor footwork, late throws, decision making. The offense couldn't establish a rhythm in the early stages, and that seemed to hurt Newton's confidence. What would have dented it even more was a poor interception in the first half. Targeting Ed Dickson on a deep dig route, Newton failed to see Bryan Poole sinking underneath the throw, reading the eyes of the quarterback. However, it appeared as though the pass would not have been close to Dickson anyway, such was its inaccuracy. At times Newton was afforded decent pass protection, although even then his footwork was spotty and sloppy. He made good decisions to throw the ball away and did not take any unnecessary sacks, but the line let him down at times in the second half with immediate pressure up the gut. Newton was guilty of missing a wide open Greg Olsen in the end zone for what should have been a touchdown; he was too late as he rolled out to the right, and his hesitancy allowed the Falcons defenders to close on the intended target. The very next play saw Newton sail a pass to Kelvin Benjamin in the end zone. The no-huddle offense kick-started things in the second half, but it would prove to be a false dawn as Newton tossed his second interception. On this occasion he seemed to telegraph his intentions, and the zone coverage DB read his eyes and broke on the throw. Even so, there did not appear to be a receiver on the end of the pass had the DB not been there. He saved his game with a beautiful touchdown pass to Benjamin on a nine route, lofting it high for his behemoth receiver to attack. It was the lone bright spot in a thoroughly forgettable game for the quarterback.
2016 Week 17 vs TB (18 / 32 / 237 / 1 / 3 pass, 3 / 6 / 0 rush)
It was a fast-paced start for Cam Newton, and the up-tempo approach seemed to get him into an early rhythm. Throwing strikes to Greg Olsen and Brenton Bersin in tight coverage, Newton saw the field well and the drive culminated in a touchdown. After that point, it was all downhill as Newton's mechanics became more lazy and the pass rush pressure started to build. Pre-snap, Newton failed to diagnose a blitz and took a sack that lost significant yardage. A high pass in the first half was too high for the intended receiver, got tipped into the air and should have been picked had the defender not dropped it. Newton took a shot downfield to Corey Brown and it appeared his receiver had come down with it, but Brown had it wrestled away and the call on the field was an interception. The spectre of Newton's shoulder injury loomed large on downfield passes, with the balls losing velocity in the air and making it easy for Bucs defenders to break on them, as they did on a subsequent downfield target to Greg Olsen. Newton's decision making was spotty, but his biggest error was at the beginning of the second half. Throwing a quick out to Ted Ginn Jr, Newton's pass was telegraphed and taken back for a touchdown by Brent Grimes. Newton failed to look off the defensive coverage, and Grimes simply trusted his instincts and broke on the pass. To Newton's credit, he did well to rally the offense to almost steal the game at the death, firing a touchdown pass in the red zone to Kelvin Benjamin. However, the general inconsistencies of the offense ˝ and Newton, in particular ˝ on the simple plays doomed the Panthers to defeat.
2015 Week 1 vs JAX (18 / 31 / 175 / 1 / 1 pass, 14 / 35 / 0 rush)
In a controlled performance by the offense, Cam Newton managed to keep things ticking over. The Panthers leaned heavily on zone read concepts and option plays to settle Newton down, something offensive coordinator Mike Shula has done often in the past. Buoyed by a strong ground game that kept Newton in manageable third down situations, he was able to pick his targets early. The use of two tight end sets provided Newton with extra time to survey the defense, but often he held the football a beat too long and gave the Jaguars defense a chance to sack or hit him. As the game wore on, however, he began to see the field with more clarity and smartly checked the football down to Jonathan Stewart or other outlets. An early red zone trip was scuppered after a good looking floated pass to Greg Olsen was ruled out by the officials for offensive pass interference. Undeterred, Newton was able to string together a nice drive that culminated in his lone touchdown strike of the game to Jerricho Cotchery. Newton fired a precision pass to his receiver on a skinny post pattern, whistling it past the earhole of the linebacker in coverage. The accuracy of the pass gave the defense no chance. Newton did not spot the linebacker in coverage on his interception, however. He tried to float a pass over the top of Paul Posluszny, but it lacked the height and accuracy it needed; Posluszny did the rest. Newton used his legs when he had to, and converted a pair of important third downs with some creative scrambling. Newton will have been pleased with the quality of his pass protection overall, but there are still some kinks to be worked out in this offense.
2015 Week 2 vs HOU (18 / 37 / 195 / 2 / 1 pass, 10 / 76 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton rolled back the years against the Texans, relying on his craftiness as a runner to keep the Panthers offense on schedule. The zone read package was central to the game plan against a ferocious Houston front seven that seemed to live on the other side of the line of scrimmage all game long. Newton did not respond well to the constant pressure applied, sailing a few passes and almost having a handful telegraphed by Houston defenders. His footwork appeared to be rushed in the face of the heat applied up front, with the offensive line struggling to sustain their blocks. The Panthers countered with some max protect looks, allowing Newton more time to see the field. He responded with some precision throws to favorite target Greg Olsen, allowing him to get into a rhythm. His first touchdown pass came against a single-high look from Houston. Newton held the high safety with his eyes, anticipating Ted Ginn Jr. to come open on a double move down the left sideline. Ginn did his part, and Newton floated a beautiful pass to his receiver in stride for the score. When the Panthers' next red zone opportunity arose, Newton made no mistake on an acrobatic quarterback draw. Center Ryan Kalil made an excellent seal block on Vince Wilfork, allowing Newton the running lane. Instead of diving low, however, he skied above the closing safety and managed to stick the landing for the score. The Panthers offense struggled to maintain the momentum and seemed to wilt as the game went on, unable to run the football effectively. On a sudden change after an A.J. Klein interception, the offense got the short field they needed to put the dagger in. Newton, once again spotting a single high look defensively, knew he had Corey Brown on the skinny post. Brown's excellent route allowed him separation for Newton to float a pass high into his waiting hands for the touchdown. Despite the pair of touchdowns, it was an off day for Newton as a passer. A screen pass floated to the left flat was floated far too high and nearly intercepted; a target on a quick slant to Devin Funchess was undercut by rookie cornerback Kevin Johnson, while an interception was taken off the board by a defensive penalty. Newton's lone interception was unlucky, as a pass directed at Kevin Norwood was tipped into the air by the receiver, landing in the hands of the roving safety. It was not the cleanest display from Newton and the Panthers offense, but it was an effective one nonetheless.
2015 Week 3 vs NO (20 / 31 / 315 / 2 / 0 pass, 7 / 33 / 1 rush)
In a performance indicative of the steady progress he has made since entering the league, Cam Newton hardly put a foot wrong against a Saints defense that offered little resistance. Newton was in full command at the line of scrimmage, checking into more favorable plays and protections. Afforded outstanding protection from his offensive line, Newton got comfortable quickly and began picking his targets with precision. A beautiful seam pass was the pick of his early throws, the football landing exactly where it needed to be for Greg Olsen to make a one-handed snag. Continuing to use the zone read option to create more defined reads in the passing attack, Newton peppered his receivers and relied on his arm rather than his legs to power the Panthers offense. Newton did, however, produce one incredible scramble for a first down. Under pressure against a four-man rush, Newton faded back into the pocket and tried to buy time to throw downfield. Seeing that no one was open, he made a swift juke move on a defender and bullied his way forward to the sticks. The connection and chemistry with Olsen was back in full swing, with Newton finding his favorite target time and again against a hapless Saints defense that seemed to have no answers. After having a touchdown pass taken off the board only two plays earlier for offensive pass interference, Newton found Olsen with a bullet pass on the goal line. The football was thrown low and away from the three defenders in the vicinity, and Olsen's strong hands reeled it in. Going back to the well for his second touchdown, Newton and Olsen connected on an almost identical route and pass. Newton faked the inside give on the zone read before Olsen found some room between two Saints defenders, posted up on the goal line with his back to the defense. Newton duly obliged with a perfectly placed ball. The icing on the cake for Newton came in the fourth quarter. Set up in the red zone, Newton audibled to a naked bootleg keeper. Faking a run behind the right guard, Newton pulled the ball and coasted into the end zone, keeping the pursuing defenders honest with a pump fake. It was a game unblemished by the usual inconsistencies from Newton, who enjoyed perhaps the finest game of his career thus far.
2015 Week 4 vs TB (11 / 22 / 124 / 2 / 0 pass, 12 / 51 / 0 rush)
It was yet another quietly efficient performance from Cam Newton despite erratic weather in Tampa. The fifth-year quarterback continues to exude a level of confidence and poise that until this season has been the exception rather than the rule. After an early defensive touchdown set the Panthers up with a 10-0 lead, Newton made good decisions with the football and in the pocket, keeping his team in manageable down and distance situations. Incorporating designed rushes with play action passes off zone read principles, Newton settled into the game quickly. Showing good command at the line of scrimmage, Newton was able to decipher late shifts in the Tampa Bay defense, something he took advantage of for his first of two touchdown passes to Ted Ginn Jr. Spotting the cornerback to Ginn's side playing off man coverage with a five-yard cushion near the goal line, Newton took the snap and without hesitation fired a quick out to Ginn, who toe-tapped for the score. The pass was another example of the improved decision-making and poise shown by Newton this season. With the game under control heading into the third quarter, Newton fell foul of the wet conditions, fumbling the football on a straightforward exchange with Jonathan Stewart. It caromed into the right flat off another Panther limb and was recovered by Tampa Bay; fortunately for Carolina and Newton, it resulted in no points. Using that near-miss as a platform to take the game by the scruff of the neck, Newton led a methodical drive, culminating in his second touchdown pass. Set up in the red zone, Newton found Ginn on a shallow crossing route, with the underneath Tampa Bay defender completely losing track on the speedy receiver. The ball was delivered perfectly in stride for Ginn to finish off. Newton avoided near disaster on the preceding play, however, tossing a pass late to the right which was telegraphed by Bucs linebacker Lavonte David. David's attempt at the interception was unsuccessful as the ball somehow came loose and hit off his knee, sparing Newton's blushes. Newton showed a controlled aggression even with the game well in hand and could have added another touchdown to Devin Funchess, only for the rookie to drop the football on a simple slant pattern in the end zone. Newton has taken his game to a new level through four games, showing a level of on-field maturity and wisdom that will keep this offense ticking over despite the dearth of weapons available.
2015 Week 6 vs SEA (20 / 36 / 269 / 1 / 2 pass, 7 / 30 / 1 rush)
After a stuttering start punctuated by bouts of stubborn defense from the Seahawks, Cam Newton saved the best for last and produced one of his finest second halves in his five-year career. Newton struggled to find his rhythm early on, as the offense leaned on Jonathan Stewart and a controlled, play-action centric game plan. Targeting Jerricho Cotchery on an in-breaking route in the first quarter, Newton threw a poor interception, his eyes giving away the intended receiver and allowing a Seahawks defender to undercut it. Undeterred, Newton and the offense continued to live on scraps, feeding off Stewart and Newton as ball carriers. The Panthers' first touchdown drive culminated in a Newton quarterback keeper. Lined up at the Seattle 1-yard line, Newton ran behind a convoy of blockers off right tackle, with a trips bunch of receivers pitching in with some nice seal blocks. It was an easy scamper into the end zone. The offensive line consistently gave Newton time to survey the field, and he wisely took what the Seahawks were giving him, at times adjusting his throwing motion to an unorthodox sidearm delivery to fit the football into tight windows. The protection let Newton down on his second interception, as Cliff Avril managed to get a hand on Newton as he was about to release the ball, intended deep for Ted Ginn who was open on the play. Instead, the pressure forced a lofty pass into centre field, where Kam Chancellor picked it off. Trailing by 10 points in the third quarter, the Panthers turned to the no huddle. Newton excelled in the up-tempo offense, managing to fight the crowd noise to communicate effectively with his receivers and settle into the game a bit more. Newton led two more touchdown drives, both culminating in Stewart short touchdown runs, but it was Newton's poise and patience that gave the Panthers a chance. Newton produced a strong fourth quarter display and found Greg Olsen in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown on a beautifully floated seam pass. The Seahawks had communication issues on the play, allowing Olsen to run free. Newton held the single high safety with his eyes, before chucking a dart to his tight end. In a mature, efficient display, Newton continued to make a lot of a less than inspiring supporting cast to pull out a victory.
2015 Week 7 vs PHI (14 / 24 / 197 / 1 / 3 pass, 4 / 20 / 1 rush)
Despite throwing three interceptions, Cam Newton did not play a poor game per se, and in fact could have performed better were it not for a series of scattershot passes. Newton was unfortunate for his first interception; throwing a fast ball to Ted Ginn Jr. on a quick slant route, the ball was ripped out of Ginn's hands and fell kindly into the Eagles defender's hands. Unfazed by the early pick, Newton kept firing and excelled at finding his targets off read option. However, his footwork tended to let him down at times and he fired a handful of high passes, including one to Ted Ginn that would have resulted in an easy first down on third down. Newton managed the pocket well, but his offensive line kept him clean for the majority of the game, allowing him to survey his options. The Eagles secondary did an excellent job in coverage, so Newton and the offense leaned on the running game for the most part. Newton used his legs to punch the football into the end zone in the second quarter, executing the read option to perfection and reaching the ball over the plane of the goal line for the score. Newton continued to fire errant passes and had one towards the sideline that could easily have gone the other way for six points. A handful of plays later, Newton thought he had Fozzy Whittaker on a flair out pass to the right sideline, but the pass was brilliantly undercut by Malcolm Jenkins after it initially appeared as though Whittaker had the ball. It was a poor decision by Newton - late and to the outside - but an even better play by Jenkins. Once the Panthers went to the no-huddle in the second half, Newton settled down and picked his targets out with precision. Set up on the 1-yard line, Newton faked an inside run to Stewart before flipping a quick pass out to Mike Tolbert, who did the rest. Just as it seemed the Panthers offense were about to put the game to bed, Newton tossed his third interception on another unfortunate play. Targeting Devin Funchess on a dig route, Newton left the pass too high; the ball tipped off Funchess' hands and landed in the midriff of an Eagles defender. It was not the cleanest game of Newton's career, and his usual issues with footwork showed up again, but a strong rushing attack and a defensive masterclass masked his deficiencies this week.
2015 Week 8 vs IND (16 / 35 / 248 / 2 / 1 pass, 10 / 41 / 0 rush)
In sloppy conditions at Bank of America Stadium, Cam Newton did not put forth his finest effort. The Panthers put an emphasis on designed running plays early on to help Newton settle down, but the Colts marshaled them well and refused to allow Carolina to establish a rushing attack. Newton showed good body lean and power on an early fourth-down conversion, barreling over linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. Newton's legs came to the fore on a ridiculous, Houdini-esque escape from the pocket in the third quarter. With the Colts sending pressure and the pocket collapsing, Newton spun before dodging a would-be tackler and breaking the pocket, outrunning a chasing defender and falling forward for a first down. Newton showed outstanding pocket presence at times too, but his best play came on a dump-off pass to Mike Tolbert. Once again facing pressure, he stepped up in the pocket and had the presence of mind to flick a pass out to his full-back. At times, however, his footwork let him down, in particular on a deep pass intercepted by the Colts. Newton failed to step into the throw, allowing two Colts defenders to converge on the pass intended for Ted Ginn Jr. Newton also turned the ball over on a fumbled exchange with backup center Fernando Velasco, pulling out too soon and letting the football go loose. Newton would redeem himself with a pair of touchdown passes in the second half, the first to Greg Olsen on a seam pattern. After a well-executed play fake, Newton floated a nice pass for Olsen where only he could make the play. Newton's second touchdown pass came in the red zone, another pass of excellent touch and placement to Corey Brown, who had run a nice corner route and gained a little separation. In overtime, Newton almost got intercepted for a second time - and what could have been a crucial one - but Vontae Davis dropped his lofted pass to the middle of the field. After that near-miss, Newton got another opportunity and would have finished the game in style with a walk-off touchdown pass if not for an egregious drop by Ted Ginn, who had gotten free on a deep pattern. It was a mature, if uneven, performance from Newton, who coped well enough with the conditions and made enough plays from the pocket to pull out a victory.
2015 Week 9 vs GB (15 / 30 / 297 / 3 / 1 pass, 9 / 57 / 1 rush)
It did not always look pretty, but that has summed up the modus operandi of Cam Newton this season: by any means necessary. A steady start from the offense saw Newton lead the team down the field for an early field goal, punctuated by a ridiculous one-handed grab in the flat from Greg Olsen. Newton used a sidearm delivery on the play to get the football past a leaping pass rusher, and the tactic proved an effective weapon in his arsenal against the Packers. Newton was in full control at the line of scrimmage, changing plays and protections on a regular basis. The offensive line afforded him terrific protection throughout, giving him a clean pocket to step into and picking up blitzers very effectively. Newton had to step up and out of the pocket for a 59-yard completion to Jerricho Cotchery early, as the veteran receiver found a soft spot in the Packers' zone coverage. The play showed good feel by Newton in the pocket. On the Panthers' second possession, Newton called his own number at the goal line, leaping and extending the football across the plane. His connection with Devin Funchess seems to be developing nicely, and the two connected on a 52-yard completion down the seam with a beautiful pass. Newton saw Funchess late, but trusted his rookie receiver to go up and make a play on the ball. That play set up a red zone opportunity which Newton converted with a short pass over the middle to Greg Olsen. Olsen was allowed a free release off the line, and it proved to be too easy for Newton, who had only to pop it to him for the score. Some inconsistencies began to creep into Newton's game as the half wore on; he missed Olsen for what would have been a touchdown on a seam pass, and showed poor footwork on a quick slant to Ted Ginn. Newton's second touchdown pass went to Corey Brown, who showed good speed to get on top of his defensive back, giving Newton a wide area to throw the ball into. He laid the pass into the air with good arc and Brown was able to haul it in for the 39-yard score. Newton's inaccuracy bit him later, as he missed Cotchery for what should have been a simple touchdown in the red zone on a quick out. Undeterred, Newton tossed his third touchdown pass of the game when the Panthers had their next red zone opportunity. Firing a pass between the numbers, Newton found his rookie receiver Funchess on a quick slant, and the rookie did the rest and bulled his way into the end zone. Newton made what could have been a critical error late in the game, leaving a sideline pass to Ted Ginn too far inside and allowing the cornerback to intercept it. The Packers were unable to capitalize and tie the game, but Newton escaped with one on that particular play.
2015 Week 10 vs TEN (21 / 26 / 217 / 1 / 0 pass, 9 / 23 / 1 rush)
It was obvious from early on that Cam Newton had emphasised mechanics in practice after last week's scattershot display against the Packers. From the first play, Newton was decisive and accurate with his passes, placing them in the perfect position for his receivers. Newton completed his first 11 passes and riffed with Greg Olsen on several timing completions to kick the offense into gear. Against a four-man rush, Newton had ample time to survey the field and picked apart the Titans defense. However, a second-half adjustment to more exotic blitzes featuring stunts and twists up front caused havoc for the Panthers offensive line. Newton was sacked a season-high five times and took a few nasty hits as the game wore on. Along the way he made some poor decisions that cost his team field position, opting not to throw the football away and hold it just a beat too long on certain plays. The indecision led to sacks and killed offensive positions before they had a chance to get going. When the Panthers had a rhythm in the first half, Newton tossed his lone touchdown pass of the game, a short pass to the back left pylon to Ed Dickson off a hard play action fake. With the offense set up with first-and-goal at the Tennessee 1, the fake could not have been executed any better and Dickson was uncovered. In the second half, Newton was forced to run for his life at times but to his credit did not force throws downfield to put his team in a bad position. After weathering the storm, Newton returned to some shorter completions to offset the blitz and had success throwing to Ted Ginn in particular. Newton provided the exclamation point for a hard-fought victory with a rushing touchdown late. Set up at the Tennessee 1, he allowed his blocks to develop and reached across the pylon for the score, extending his arm all the way. It was sloppy at times for Newton, but this came down more to the Panthers' inability to deal with the Titans' blitzes and less to Newton's mistakes.
2015 Week 11 vs WAS (21 / 34 / 246 / 5 / 0 pass, 4 / 16 / 0 rush)
It turned into a banner day for Cam Newton, who managed to produce his first career five-touchdown pass performance despite starting off slowly. The offense sputtered with an early three-and-out, as the line struggled to pick up Washington's extra blitzers. Newton would quickly find his rhythm and fired on-time strikes to his receivers to set up a red zone opportunity. Off a quick play fake to Jonathan Stewart, Newton fired a pass to his back in the right flat and he did the rest. Newton produced a near replica of that touchdown pass later when he hit Mike Tolbert for the score. Newton showed terrific command of the offense, executing audibles at the line and using dummy snap counts to force the Redskins into revealing their play. Newton's hard count also got the Redskins to jump offsides five times. Newton did not have to use his legs except on a couple of scrambles when nothing was open downfield, and he did this to good effect. On one play, however, he tried to do too much and should have simply thrown the ball away. Instead, he took a 12-yard loss on a sack. Newton consistently found his targets his precision passing, with a beautiful touch pass to Greg Olsen on an intermediate crossing pattern the pick of the bunch. He was fortunate not be intercepted on a target for Jerricho Cotchery at the back of the end zone. Cotchery could have hauled it in, but allowed it to hit off his shoulder pads, sending the ball into the air. Fortunately it fell onto the turf and not into a Washington player's hands. Set up in the red zone, Newton fired his third touchdown pass to Ted Ginn after having to scramble and buy extra time. Feeling the rush, Newton rolled right and found Ginn with a bullet pass at the back of the end zone. Newton continued to see the field clearly and fired his fourth touchdown pass to Olsen in the red zone. Newton used his eyes to look left before coming straight back to his tight end on the skinny post for the score. With the game well in hand, Newton found rookie Devin Funchess for his fifth touchdown pass after being set up inside the five-yard line, firing the pass high and away from the defensive back in coverage. The ball location meant only Funchess could have made the play. It was a clean, efficient game from Newton, who continues to thrive in this offense that he has made his own.
2015 Week 12 vs DAL (16 / 27 / 183 / 0 / 0 pass, 12 / 45 / 1 rush)
Feeding off the turnovers from the defense, Cam Newton and the Carolina offense played with a ruthless efficiency in the early stages, getting Newton comfortable with zone read runs and quick passing to Greg Olsen. Newton benefited from outstanding pass protection throughout the game, and it was most evident on two pinpoint downfield throws on third-and-long. Showing excellent patience in the pocket, Newton found Jerricho Cotchery on both attempts with terrific bullet passes. Another outstanding throw came on a seam pass to Olsen, who got inside his defender, but it was the accuracy of the pass from Newton that allowed his tight end to make a catch to both secure the football and protect himself. With a comfortable half-time lead to build on, Newton will be disappointed with his red zone play; he had three consecutive pass attempts inside the five-yard line fall incomplete, but Dallas' defensive backs deserve credit for making good plays on the ball. Newton made a poor error that he has committed several times before, retreating from pressure and getting sacked for a loss of about 15 yards. The play put the offense in 4th and 40 territory, when Newton could simply have thrown the ball away to preserve field position. Despite the overall struggles of the offense, Newton punctuated his day with a rushing touchdown inside the five-yard line. Dropping back and quickly surveying his options, Newton determined none of his receivers were open and weaved his way into the end zone, reaching the ball across the plane. The game script played a large part in the lack of passing attempts for Newton, but despite some missteps along the way by the offense, he did an excellent job keeping them on schedule with pinpoint passing and, on the whole, smart plays.
2015 Week 13 vs NO (28 / 41 / 331 / 5 / 1 pass, 10 / 49 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton had to show a lot of guts and character to will his team to a victory against a Saints team that would not go away. It took five touchdown passes from the MVP candidate, who fought on despite sustaining what looked like a couple of bad injuries. On one play, he was bent back awkwardly and looked to have twisted his ankle; it seemed not to bother him the rest of the game. On another - what looked like a routine touchdown run - he was surprised to be hit on the top of the helmet by a Saints defender. Afforded good pass protection all day, Newton's day started off poorly with a bad decision to throw a pass to Ted Ginn in tight coverage. The cornerback had excellent position and the pass was simply not on; it was a simple play for the defender to make. The play seemed to affect him, as he missed Greg Olsen and Ginn on deep shots that looked like easy completions. A 30-yard run on a naked bootleg on fourth-and-short seemed to restore his confidence, as he quickly followed it up with a touchdown toss to Mike Tolbert in the flat. The Saints sent an all-out blitz, but Newton kept his cool and took the easy completion for the score. Newton showed excellent pocket presence against a heavy rush to step away and find tight end Ed Dickson down the sideline. On several occasions Newton's receivers let him down, most notably on a deep shot to Ginn, who simply dropped the ball. However, the speedster made up for his error with a pair of touchdown grabs. The first came on a go route in the red zone. The Saints blew a coverage assignment and let Ginn run free, allowing Newton to fizz a pass into him. The second came on a deep crossing pattern. Once again, the Saints coverage left a lot to be desired, but Newton's pass was such that only Ginn could have made the play. Newton continued to fight and notched a touchdown pass on a nicely lofted option pitch to Jonathan Stewart. After faking an inside give to Tolbert, Newton moved out left. The Saints defenders honed in on the quarterback, so it was a simple toss out to his back for the score. Newton's fourth touchdown pass went to rookie Devin Funchess, who got an excellent release and ran a quick slant; the pass was fired in with venom into a tiny window. Newton will have been disappointed with his continued spotty accuracy as he missed a simple would-be touchdown pass on a post route to Corey Brown. Shaking off the cobwebs, Newton led a terrific go-ahead touchdown drive, capped by a strike in the back of the end zone to Jerricho Cotchery. It was an excellent read by Newton, who had to go through his progressions before finding his old reliable. The final drive included another game-saving play from Newton, who had to escape pressure and roll left to find Greg Olsen on fourth down to keep the game alive. It was an imperfect day from Newton as a passer, but ultimately his play was the difference.
2015 Week 14 vs ATL (15 / 21 / 265 / 3 / 0 pass, 3 / 4 / 0 rush)
The league MVP candidate started off the contest as he finished the New Orleans one, firing precision passes and showing excellent command at the line of scrimmage. Cam Newton's accuracy in particular stood out in this game, as he peppered his targets his passes behind an offensive line that, for the most part, protected him well. Newton saw a lot of pressure off his front side, and at times had to escape. One escape act ended in a loss of 10 yards, as the quarterback tried to do too much instead of simply throwing the ball away. Undeterred by the occasional pressure, Newton fired a beautiful touch pass to Greg Olsen on a corner route to set the offense up for their first score, a short touchdown run for Jonathan Stewart. Sensing the chance to build a strong lead, Newton fired another peach of a pass to Ted Ginn Jr., who separated down the left sideline and hauled in a 74-yard touchdown pass. The ball was ideally placed for Ginn to run on to. Newton would go back to Ginn for his second touchdown pass, as the speedster bisected the Falcons' zone defense and got on top of the safeties, allowing Newton to lay the football into his path with another precision throw. Newton made it a trio of touchdown passes with another bullet pass, this time in the red zone. Turnover-free this season in this part of the field, Newton showed confidence as he fired a pass so that only his receiver, Ed Dickson, could catch it. Dickson's tremendous effort to dive for the football made it possible, but the football was placed perfectly. Newton was fortunate a pass intended for Devin Funchess was not intercepted after the rookie receiver appeared to be confused on the route. The Atlanta cornerback dropped the pass to the turf and could not make the play. Newton left the game for one play after appearing to hurt his hand, but showed no ill effects for the remainder of his time on the field. The coaching staff inserted Derek Anderson in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand, but Newton set the table for what was another impressive performance.
2015 Week 15 vs NYG (25 / 45 / 340 / 5 / 0 pass, 8 / 100 / 0 rush)
In another performance to strengthen his case for the MVP, Cam Newton produced a highly efficient outing against the Giants. At times he was off target on what appeared to be straightforward throws, notably on a deep shot to Ted Ginn Jr. Newton was afforded outstanding pass protection, with the Giants having to send extra blitzers to get close to him. They got home a couple of times, with Newton making a poor decision to try to pump fake Jason Pierre-Paul before the defensive end wrapped him up for a big loss. The majority of the game, however, Newton was able to scan the field and find his targets with precision passes. The running game was inconsistent without Jonathan Stewart, so Newton took matters into his own hands with a 47-yard run on a read option play early on. Newton took the football behind left guard and then defeated the angles of defenders to dash up the right sideline. It set the Panthers up for Newton's first touchdown pass of the game, a bullet to the back left corner of the end zone to Ted Ginn Jr. It was a simple read for the quarterback, who quickly saw that the safety had lost position on the speedy receiver. Newton's ability to escape the rush was a feature of the game; on several occasions, seeing nothing open downfield, he shrugged off pressure and got enough with his legs for the first down. Newton nearly had an ill-timed interception on a deep pass to Ginn, but fortunately his receiver broke it up at the last second. On another play, pressure came and leveled Newton, forcing a quicker release than he would have liked. The football looked to be going the other way for a pick six in the hands of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but the cornerback dropped it. Newton seemed to be favoring his shoulder after that play, absorbing a massive hit on the release. He looked none the worse for wear on his second touchdown pass, a beautifully designed play to get Greg Olsen open off naked boot action. Newton faked the run inside before booting right, but Olsen had faked a block and sneaked out on a corner route. The pass was lofted perfectly over the onrushing defenders and Olsen did the rest. With the game getting away from the Giants, Newton added a third touchdown pass to Devin Funchess right before half-time. Funchess' route was good and allowed Newton a nice window to fit the ball into, which he did with accuracy and pace. After a well-executed no huddle drive to begin the second half, Newton tossed his fourth touchdown pass to Corey Brown. The receiver ran a perfect 'sluggo' route, faking the defender inside before going deep; Newton's pass was perfect for Brown to run under, and the pump fake he executed to keep the safety out of the picture showed incredible awareness and ball-handling skill. The offense stagnated a bit in the third quarter, but Newton came back and fired a fifth touchdown pass to Ginn, audibling to a wide receiver screen after detecting a blitz pre-snap. Newton made the correct call and was able to quickly fire out to Ginn, who did the rest with good blocks downfield and blazing speed. The Giants clawed their way back into the contest with a late rally, with a fumble on a read option play ˝ for which Newton was primarily to blame ˝ the catalyst. With the game tied at 35 and only a little under two minutes to play, the unruffled Newton led the offense on a nice drive to set them up for the winning field goal. The performance encapsulated everything good - and frustrating - about Newton's game, but he managed to overcome the hits and register another five-touchdown display.
2015 Week 16 vs ATL (17 / 30 / 142 / 0 / 0 pass, 7 / 46 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton endured a poor performance against Atlanta, who seemed to have an answer to the complex Carolina offense at every turn. All seemed to be clicking as usual on the opening drive, as Newton fired bullets to his receivers on time and got into a rhythm. With solid pass protection, he led the offense down inside the red zone and ran in for a touchdown on a staple play of this team, the quarterback draw. The offense never reached those heights again, being shut out for the remainder of the game. Pass rush began to affect Newton's footwork and he sailed a couple of passes that should have been easy completions. With Atlanta controlling time of possession, Newton and the offense were unable to capitalize on their opportunities, floundering when they would normally thrive. Newton was able to execute between the 20s, showing off his speed when needed and running the zone read to good effect. A third-and-10 scramble for a first down showed an incredible effort and fight from Newton, who had to have been hit about six times on the play, but refused to give in and fell forward, reaching the ball out. The downfield passing attack was simply not clicking, and Newton rarely even attempted any passes beyond 20 yards, such was the discipline of the Falcons defensive backs. In general, Carolina receivers seemed to struggle to get open, forcing Newton to run it himself or take the check-downs. Newton threw what appeared to be an interception on a forced pass to the right sideline; the defensive back caught it, but Corey Brown was on hand to break it up. The red zone inefficiencies ˝ apart from the opening drive ˝ and the lack of opportunities due to Atlanta's strong time of possession really hurt the rhythm of Newton and the offense. Even though they were afforded two opportunities to drive down the field and salvage the game in the final three minutes, they couldn't take them. Newton was strip-sacked to end the game after pressure off his right side. It was a rare toothless performance from a Carolina offense that had been a juggernaut for the past few weeks.
2015 Week 17 vs TB (21 / 26 / 293 / 2 / 0 pass, 6 / 10 / 2 rush)
After some early hiccups in pass protection, leading to back-to-back sacks, Cam Newton and the offense began to settle into a familiar rhythm. Newton was very sharp early on, firing passes on time and on target to a variety of receivers. A nonchalant flick of the wrist on a pass to Devin Funchess against the blitz was a thing of beauty, and a deep target for Corey Brown was dropped in the end zone and should have been a touchdown. Newton was in full control at the line of scrimmage, checking into better plays often and managing to draw the Buccaneers offside with his cadence. Newton made his fair share of questionable plays, but none of them involved turning the ball over; instead, it was a sack he shouldn't have taken and a poor play to pass the ball beyond the line of scrimmage on the option. Newton scored his first of two rushing touchdowns on a naked bootleg in the red zone, a play that has become a staple of Carolina's offense. No Buccaneers defender had a chance to close the gap on him once he got moving, and it proved to be an easy score. Newton produced a Houdini play on the next series, somehow escaping a sack and flicking the ball for a 41-yard catch and run to Funchess. The ball was tipped by a Buccaneers defender in flight, but it ended up in Funchess' hands. Newton's second rushing touchdown came on a quarterback sneak, after a straightforward drive by the offensive line at the 1-yard line. The MVP candidate did an excellent job with his first passing touchdown. Coming off a timeout, the Panthers lined up quickly and caught the Buccaneers off guard. This allowed Newton to quickly scan the field and find Jerricho Cotchery beyond the Buccaneers' last man in the secondary for a beautiful touchdown pass. The location of the ball to the back line of the end zone meant only Cotchery could have made the play. His second passing touchdown went to Funchess, who did an excellent job to gain separation on a quick slant, presenting a big target for Newton. Funchess caught the ball and dove for the goal line to finish the play. It was a polished display from Newton and the offense, who recovered well after the debacle in Atlanta.
2014 Week 2 vs DET (22 / 34 / 281 / 1 / 0 pass, 4 / 19 / 0 rush)
In his first game back after a rib injury, Cam Newton admitted he felt a little "antsy" early on against the Lions, and it showed in his play early on. He lacked decisiveness in his reads and tried to force the ball downfield to Jason Avant in good coverage as the offense sputtered. However, when the offense went up-tempo after two disappointing possessions, Newton found his rhythm in a hurry. He started to fire darts to his receivers, with tight end Greg Olsen a big part of his success. The Lions were able to apply a lot of pressure on Newton, however, and he was at fault for retreating too often to try to make something out of nothing. The offensive line was culpable for a few breakdowns, allowing Lions to come free. Undeterred, Newton kept firing and even showed his wheels on a 13-yard option keeper in the second half. Newton looked poised in the second half as the Panthers pulled away, finding Jason Avant for his lone touchdown pass of the game. With good protection in the red zone, Newton showed good patience as Avant crossed the face of the Lions defensive back on a dig route, duly firing it between his numbers for a nice hook-up. Newton showed some rust as well and could have been intercepted on an early target on the post to Greg Olsen as the ball was deflected into the air. There will be some rust to knock off for Newton in the coming weeks, but this was a positive first step as he demonstrated good poise, patience and perseverance to seal a victory.
2014 Week 3 vs PIT (24 / 35 / 250 / 1 / 0 pass, 2 / 7 / 0 rush)
Pressure was the name of the game for Cam Newton in this feisty encounter - or to be more precise, escaping it. The Steelers managed to get a good pass rush on the recovering Panthers quarterback, who still does not look entirely comfortable coming off offseason ankle surgery and still nursing a rib injury. Newton, to his credit, continued to fire strikes even with the rush bearing down on him and delivered catchable passes on a consistent basis under duress. However, after a huge blow to the midsection by defensive tackle Steve McClendon in the second quarter, Newton looked shaken up and seemed to retreat from the pocket rather than step up into it on his passing attempts. Newton's offensive line was culpable for the three sacks on him as they struggled to deal with the Steelers' stunts. Jarvis Jones forced a fumble as the pressure continued to build midway through the contest. As a runner, Newton looked tentative and had a career low in rushing (two attempts for seven yards), but this also speaks to his development as a passer. When he was afforded time to survey the field, he would find his targets time and again with accurate, well thrown darts. The team's inability to establish the run - especially after Jonathan Stewart was knocked out of the game - really put additional pressure on Newton to deliver. He responded with a nice pitch and catch to favourite target Greg Olsen on a well-timed corner route. Olsen did the rest, sprinting to pay dirt. The Panthers will need to shore up their protection in the coming weeks or Newton risks another injury.
2014 Week 4 vs BAL (14 / 25 / 197 / 1 / 0 pass, 2 / 7 / 0 rush)
In what was a disjointed offensive performance by Carolina, the lack of confidence Newton has in his protection - and perhaps his body - betrayed him again. The comfort level in the face of pressure simply isn't there for him at the moment, and the Ravens were able to move him off the spot and force him to throw from awkward platforms, often while being drilled. Nevertheless, Newton continued to fire downfield when given time and showed terrific bucket accuracy, particularly on two sideline throws to Jerricho Cotchery where he was able to drop the pass right in the bread basket. With the ground game struggling once again to establish any momentum, exacerbated by the injury to DeAngelo Williams midway through the second quarter, Newton and the Panthers had to play catch-up football. The read option was mixed in to get Newton on the move, but he lacks the burst of his pre-surgery self. As a passer, there is nothing wrong with Newton, but the leaky offensive line of Carolina is starting to play on his mind and affecting his confidence. In a turnover-free display, Newton was able to hook up with one of the lone bright spots of the offense, Kelvin Benjamin. At the snap, Newton spotted the deep half safety cheating over to the right with Benjamin running a streak down the left sideline. Without hesitation, he fired a rocket into Benjamin, who had plenty of room to complete the catch with the safety showing poor technique and never helping over the top.
2014 Week 5 vs CHI (19 / 35 / 255 / 2 / 1 pass, 6 / 9 / 0 rush)
Strides continue to be made by Cam Newton, and perhaps no area of his game has improved more than his accuracy. His dissection of the Bears defense with pinpoint passes was further evidence of this encouraging progression for the fourth-year passer. Newton struggled early, however, and had the football stripped out of his hand by DE Willie Young after a breakdown in protection between his left tackle and left guard. Young had a clean shot and ripped the football loose. After a couple of stalled drives, Newton was intercepted after a tipped pass landed fortuitously in the hands of Lance Briggs. Undaunted, he continued firing and was able to zip laser passes into Avant, Cotchery and Olsen in the no huddle as the offense started to gather steam and Newton caught fire. Where before the Carolina offense stalled out or made crucial errors in the red zone, the end of the first half saw Newton deliver a strike in the red zone to Olsen for a score. Olsen was able to wriggle free of attention and Newton duly obliged. With better protection, a more composed Newton got into a rhythm and found Olsen for a second touchdown - the go ahead score - on a beautiful seam pass in the red zone as the big tight end once again escaped the attentions of the Bears defensive backs. A highly efficient Newton rebounded strongly after a sluggish start and will look to carry this momentum forward.
2014 Week 6 vs CIN (29 / 46 / 284 / 2 / 1 pass, 17 / 107 / 1 rush)
After weeks of recovery from offseason ankle surgery, the training wheels were finally taken off Cam Newton. Looking revitalised and ready to roll, Newton rushed for over 100 yards and looked good in the process, gliding effortlessly across the turf and making good reads off option plays to exploit wide open lanes. It was only in the second half that Newton really pushed the envelope with his ground gains; prior to that, he had showed the same level of precision and control in his play as a passer as he had in recent weeks. Newton's growth has been startling and he continued to impress with his decision making, accuracy and pocket awareness against the Bengals. The offensive line gave him plenty of time and often kept in extra bodies to protect; after giving up sacks on a routine basis the last few weeks, the line gave up none. Newton was locked in from the opening kick as he matriculated the ball downfield, showing trust in his targets and executing his fakes and drops very crisply. The first offensive possession resulted in a touchdown, as Newton fired a bullet pass on a quick slant to Kelvin Benjamin in the red zone. Benjamin held on despite taking a huge hit, but the pass was perfectly placed. Newton added a second touchdown pass to his favourite target, tight end Greg Olsen, on a cleverly executed backside tight end screen. Off play action, Newton booted right. Olsen intentionally got lost in traffic and emerged on the backside, giving his quarterback an easy pitch and catch for the walk-in score. When the Panthers offense needed a jolt, it was Newton's legs that carried them. His efforts culminated in a rushing touchdown in the red zone off a play the Panthers used to use as a fixture of their red zone repertoire, QB power. Newton followed the pulling guard and powered through contact to finish strongly for the score. Newton's game was mostly clean, but he made one crucial mistake on a high pass to Kelvin Benjamin which turned out to be intercepted. Benjamin, surrounded by Bengals defenders, had little chance of reaching the pass, and safety Reggie Nelson was there to reel in the pick. In a bizarre tie game, Newton continued to hit the heights and showed he is more than ready to resume his role as a rushing threat in the Carolina offense that badly needs to establish a ground game.
2014 Week 7 vs GB (17 / 31 / 205 / 1 / 1 pass, 7 / 41 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton suffered through a disjointed performance as he consistently failed to hit receivers and made some poor reads throughout. Early on, Newton and the offense went three and out three times in a row, allowing the Packers to pile up the points and taking the Carolina offense out of its comfort zone. Newton, amid some overthrows, scrambled around behind a porous offensive line and was able to find some rhythm late in the first half with Greg Olsen playing a big part. Pressured constantly, often only against a four-man rush, Newton kept plays alive and almost produced a Houdini-like escape act on one play. He was almost intercepted on a sideline pass that the defensive back nearly undercut, but it wasn't long before he threw his lone pick of the game. Newton, looking left, seemed to misread his receiver's route or the defense's coverage and ended up throwing the football right into Casey Hayward's hands. With the game well out of hand, Ron Rivera took Newton out of the game, but not before he threw a beautiful touchdown pass to rookie phenom Kelvin Benjamin. Newton, displaying the kind of accuracy we have come to expect this season, zipped the football into Benjamin on a back shoulder fade, placing it perfectly.
2014 Week 8 vs SEA (12 / 22 / 171 / 0 / 1 pass, 12 / 24 / 0 rush)
In a disjointed display that is becoming the rule rather than the exception over the past few weeks, Cam Newton struggled to cope and made some crucial mistakes that cost his team dearly. Newton started off sharply, however, finding his targets on time and in rhythm and feeding off a few early carries on option keepers to establish a bit of momentum. Confidence high, Newton almost gave Seattle a gift interception on a drilled pass on a quick slant to Jerricho Cotchery. The velocity of the pass may have been what saved him, as the Seattle defensive back couldn't manage to hold onto it even though it hit him right in the chest. Red zone possessions stalled out on the Panthers, though Newton was not entirely to blame. The Seahawks defensive front got great push and stoned the rushing attack time and again, while Kelvin Benjamin dropped a catchable pass that would have been a touchdown. Smelling paydirt again in the second quarter, Newton committed a poor turnover on an option play, neither keeping nor pulling the ball from Jonathan Stewart. The confusion led to the ball being dropped and recovered by Seattle. In his post-game interview, Newton would admit that against teams like Seattle sometimes you have to push things a bit; he won't have been pleased with his lone interception of the day, however. In a Brett Favre-like piece of improvisation, Newton rolled left to escape pressure and flipped the ball nonchalantly. The only problem was that his intended target Greg Olsen was not expecting such a pass, and it was duly taken the other way. It was a moment of madness from Newton, whose decision making throughout the game wavered between brilliant and downright confusing. Newton produced a Houdini act and avoided a safety late in the game, ducking under Michael Bennett. He followed that up with a beautiful 51-yard bomb to Kelvin Benjamin, laying it perfectly for his rookie wideout. Newton is clearly back to his best as far as running the ball and escaping pressure, but his patchwork offensive line is not giving him the time he needs consistently enough, and his game ˝ and his confidence ˝ is suffering as a result.
2014 Week 9 vs NO (10 / 28 / 151 / 0 / 1 pass, 7 / 43 / 1 rush)
Although it can be argued Cam Newton is back to himself after his injury, these past few weeks have seen him take a significant step backwards in his development. An offensive line that featured a new left tackle and backups at all but two positions afforded him little protection and scant time to go through his progressions. More than that, he wasn't given the chance to get comfortable and an antsy streak began to creep into his play as the game wore on. Newton had to scramble several times, more to escape pressure than to create for his team when all other options were exhausted. As a passer, he was scattershot with his accuracy and threw many passes that were well away from the intended receivers. He almost hooked up with Kelvin Benjamin on a deep pass early but threw it just a couple of yards too far. The red zone struggles continued for Newton and his rookie receiver, as the pair failed to hook up on four targets, one of which cannoned off Benjamin's chest. Under duress all night, Newton was strip sacked near his own end zone when he moved up in the pocket due to the rush; it resulted in the Saints' first points. Later, an unlucky Newton fired a pass into the hands of Brenton Bersin ˝ a perfect throw ˝ only for it to bounce off Bersin's hands and into the Saints'. It proved to be his lone interception, but he could have had more, as he escaped on a couple of errant throws that were in the direction of New Orleans defensive backs. Newton showed good speed to get to the edge and dive for the pylon for his rushing touchdown, but in general the rushing attack was stymied by a disciplined Saints front. The option game, especially, was a non-factor in what was one of the poorest displays of Newton's young career.
2014 Week 10 vs PHI (25 / 40 / 306 / 2 / 3 pass, 2 / 6 / 0 rush)
Newton had a very rough outing on Monday, even more so than his stat line would suggest. Fantasy owners enjoyed the two garbage time touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but those plays belied just how bad Newton's performance was to that point. Going into the fourth quarter, Carolina was down by 31 points and Newton had 194 passing yards, no touchdowns and 3 interceptions. It is obvious to the naked eye even on the television broadcast that Newton is not healthy. Cam grimaced in pain after many of the 9 sacks he took during the game, and he was not nearly as spry when evading pressure or executing the few designed runs that were called. Both the patchwork offensive line and Newton were responsible for the sacks taken. Byron Bell at left tackle is an abject disaster, but the interior of the line also ensured Cam had little time on passing plays. Newton though, stood perfectly still on many passing plays staring at one receiver waiting for him to get open, paying no attention to the Eagles pass rushers as they approached. When Newton did throw the ball, he obviously lacked the footwork and overall mechanics necessary to throw the ball well. He threw several deep balls that had no chance, and on those throws Cam stood straight up with little to no weight transfer from one leg to the other. Newton has the perfect storm of lingering injuries, terrible offensive line play, and a thin receiving corps making him an extremely dicey play going forward.
2014 Week 11 vs ATL (23 / 37 / 292 / 2 / 2 pass, 5 / 30 / 0 rush)
Inconsistency and poor play continued to hound under-fire Cam Newton against division rival Atlanta as the struggling Panthers offense faltered once again. A missed assignment on Newton's first dropback allowed a free rusher to tattoo Newton right underneath his chinstrap, but the pass protection was much improved after that. Even with time to throw, however, Newton showed all the worst sides of his game; overthrows, inaccurate underneath passes and trying to keep plays alive instead of simply living to play another down. There was the usual dose of option keeper plays to get Newton into a rhythm, but he looked sluggish and hesitant running the ball at times and was chased down on the sideline after a rollout by linebacker Paul Worrilow. The Falcons did an exceptional job keeping the Panthers receivers under wraps on third down, giving Newton very few viable options to release the football to. Even when he found his target ˝ usually on a difficult pass ˝ his receivers let him down. Newton's ball security continues to plague him; after nearly having a pass towards the sideline telegraphed, a floated ball intended for Greg Olsen on a 7-route was first tipped and then intercepted by the roving free safety in the area. It was a difficult pass to attempt and there is the sense that Newton is simply trying too hard to get this offense back on track. Newton was bitten by the same bug on a target to rookie Kelvin Benjamin on a slant pattern over the middle. Benjamin, just as he did on Monday night in Philadelphia, seemed to slow down at the top of his route, allowing Desmond Trufant to come underneath and intercept the Newton pass. The offense surprisingly came to life in the fourth quarter and Newton began to find a much-needed rhythm. Continuing to trust Benjamin even after his error, Newton fired a beautiful lob pass up to the left corner of the end zone. Benjamin got position on Trufant and reeled in the pass despite initially juggling it. Newton followed it up with a picture perfect deep pass to Corey ŰPhilly' Brown, a rookie out of Ohio State who is normally utilised as a return man. With the defensive back turned around, Newton knew the least he would get on the play was a defensive pass interference penalty; instead, his accurate pass was rewarded with a touchdown. The fourth quarter revival notwithstanding, the play of Cam Newton has declined significantly since the beginning of the season and mistakes and inconsistencies are still a major part of his game.
2014 Week 13 vs MIN (18 / 35 / 194 / 1 / 1 pass, 9 / 49 / 0 rush)
It was the same old script for the Panthers and Cam Newton against Minnesota as a poor offensive line display, combined with a calamity of errors on special teams, doomed the team to another loss. Pressure was the name of the game once more as the Panthers fielded their seventh different offensive line combination of the season. Newton was hassled and harried early and often by the Minnesota front four and often had to use his legs to keep plays alive. He did it well for the most part in the early stages, but as the pressure built more mistakes began to rear their ugly heads. Newton's accuracy and decision making started to become an issue as he almost threw an interception on a hitch pattern to Kelvin Benjamin. The cornerback jumped the pattern and only Benjamin's effort to strip the ball from him prevented a pick. Newton looked comfortable running the ball on option keepers and improvised plays and kept a couple of drives alive with his feet. However, when it came to the red zone, the inability to execute on third down was once again the Panthers' downfall. The inability of his receivers to get open combined with a poor offensive line did not give Newton enough time to survey the field and find his target. Newton tossed a touchdown pass to Philly Brown on a deep post route ˝ a fourth down play that gave the Panthers a glimmer of hope. It was a good read by Newton, who saw safety Harrison Smith out of position. With the cornerback in outside technique, it was a simple toss up to Brown, who almost caught the football like a punt. Newton tossed a late interception down the right sideline, as an excellent play by Josh Robinson in trail technique on young receiver De'Andre Presley essentially ended the game. It was not the worst display by Newton, but it is clear his confidence is low right now.
2014 Week 14 vs NO (21 / 33 / 226 / 3 / 0 pass, 12 / 83 / 1 rush)
Apart from a fight in the end zone in the second quarter that resulted in an ejection, Cam Newton and the Panthers offense stayed in control for this entire contest. The Saints defense simply had no rebuke to a barrage of Panthers points and successfully executed plays. Newton got into a rhythm early with some easy completions between the hashes to Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen, following it up with a zone read run that he kept the football on. Newton looked quick in and out of his cuts and decisive in his reads, showing no evidence of "seeing ghosts" or any lingering injuries. He saw the field clearly and tossed his first touchdown pass to Benjamin in the red zone, a bullet to the left sideline away and outside of the defender. On occasion, Newton showed a touch of inaccuracy, but nothing that hasn't been a staple of his game since being drafted. On a few plays, instead of fading back and retreating from pressure, Newton showed subtle pocket movement skills to buy a second more before firing downfield. He seemed more comfortable in his skin and looked spry when he dove over the top at the one-yard line for a touchdown, almost being tipped upside down in the process. Newton's favourite target Olsen got behind the defense when the Panthers made their next trip to the red zone, giving him a simple pass for an even simpler touchdown. The play fake by Newton was excellent, but the defense was non-existent. Capping off a controlled and mature display, Newton hit Fozzy Whittaker on a screen pass and the young back did the rest, following his blocks to the end zone. In what was probably Newton-s finest performance of the year, his poise in the pocket and ability to see the field clearly - owing in large part to a massively improved offensive line display - were keys to his success.
2014 Week 16 vs CLE (18 / 31 / 201 / 1 / 1 pass, 12 / 63 / 1 rush)
You never would have guessed Cam Newton had suffered two fractures in his lower back by the way he looked against the Browns. Newton was poised, energetic and ran the ball with a comfort level most wouldnÝt have expected. Early on, Newton kept the ball on the read option, a shot across the bough to the Browns defenders. Helped by a steady ground game and a good effort from his offensive line, Newton connected well with his targets and did not looked held back at all by his ailment. Newton ran smartly throughout, only using his legs when all other options were exhausted. Even with the Browns taking top target Greg Olsen out of the equation, Newton showed excellent patience to let his other targets come open. A little scattershot with his accuracy at times, Newton nonetheless fired some darts into his receivers for the most part. With Olsen as his escort, Newton booted right in a heavy run set on the goal line for his rushing touchdown, scooting into the end zone for an easy score. Later, he connected with Jonathan Stewart after showing terrific pocket presence to keep the play alive in the red zone. Newton stepped up, then out, before firing to a wide open Stewart. The lone blemishes were an ill-advised interception and a fumble that fortunately was recovered by his left tackle Byron Bell. Newton had the ball knocked out from behind after he held it a beat too long. His interception was a poor decision; faced with pressure, Newton spun out and wheeled left to try to make something happen. He then lofted the ball into the left flat to nobody in particular and it landed in the arms of a defensive lineman. It was overall, however, a controlled display from Newton, who looked comfortable for the most part.
2014 Week 17 vs ATL (10 / 16 / 114 / 1 / 0 pass, 6 / 51 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton played under control and in command against Atlanta, showing excellent maturity in his decision-making and not turning the football over. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula allowed Newton to get into a rhythm early with some designed runs off the zone read, and Newton had to create yards for himself against a few early Atlanta blitzes. A very solid display from the offensive line, finally undisturbed by injury for the past few weeks, gave Newton an excellent platform to locate his targets. Newton was on point with most of his passes, only failing to connect when a blitzer was bearing down on him. Newton could have hooked up with Kelvin Benjamin on a long touchdown pass, only for the rookie to drop a beautifully lofted pass. Undeterred, Newton continued firing bullets and after failing to cash in with a touchdown on the first red zone trip, made no mistake on the second. Spotting a coverage breakdown by Atlanta in the flat against Ed Dickson, Newton showed no hesitation, firing it into his backup tight end for the score. A fumble gave the offense a short field before the end of the first half, and Newton duly capitalized with a QB power run behind rookie left guard Andrew Norwell. Initially stopped, Norwell and Newton continued pushing together and reached pay dirt. Newton played keep away for the remainder of the game as a dominant defense and a strong running game kept the game under control. Nevertheless, it was a locked-in performance by Newton throughout.
2014 Week 18 vs ARI (18 / 32 / 198 / 2 / 1 pass, 7 / 35 / 0 rush)
Poor mechanics plagued Cam Newton throughout this contest, leading to some errant passes and mistakes. Newton started with confidence, hitting his targets early with good timing and precision. An early miss down the right sideline to Ed Dickson on a simple throw was a harbinger for what was to come, however. A strong running game took some of the heat off Newton, who was beginning to feel the pressure applied by the Arizona defense. Poor footwork led to some incompletions, but his lone interception of the game can be put down to poor play from Jerricho Cotchery, who appeared to quit on his route. Newton, spotting Cotchery on a shallow cross, expected his receiver to continue running right to left. Cotchery stopped suddenly and seemed to look around for the ball, allowing the Cardinals an easy pick. Newton, to his credit, chased down the defender to prevent a touchdown. Newton operated effectively as a runner and made some excellent reads on zone plays, including for Jonathan Stewart's touchdown. Despite being hit more often in the second half, Newton showed bravery on a dive for a first down on third down, taking a shot to his recently operated on back. Newton tossed what turned out to be an easy touchdown pass to Fozzy Whittaker on a screen play. Whittaker did the dirty work, cutting back across the field for a walk-in touchdown. Newton found Mike Tolbert for his second touchdown after a series of penalties kept a drive alive in the red zone. Tolbert leaked out into the flat off play action and Newton duly obliged for the score. In a shaky performance, however, Newton showed how pressure - and the perception of pressure - can lead to him abandoning his mechanics for long stretches.
2014 Week 19 vs SEA (23 / 36 / 246 / 2 / 2 pass, 11 / 37 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton battled hard in a testing environment to give the Panthers offense a fighting chance, but mistakes ultimately held him back from making this game a closer contest. Despite being under pressure for most of the game, Newton showed excellent pocket presence and mobility. Rather than looking to run, he would simply step up or to the side away from the rush and find his target. When he had time, he showed excellent touch and anticipation on downfield routes, with the sluggo seam pattern to Greg Olsen standing out; he threaded the ball between three defenders and put it where only Olsen could haul it in. However, mistakes proved costly for Newton. An early interception down the right sideline amounted to a punt, but the deep shot was an early warning sign to him that passing downfield would not be fruitful. The Panthers offense kept things close to the line of scrimmage, relying on three-step drops that would allow Newton to get the ball out quickly. Richard Sherman almost jumped a quick slant by Philly Brown on one such short pattern, but somehow dropped it. A second potential interception was wiped out on review. Newton failed to look off free safety Earl Thomas in the red zone and the dynamic safety jumped a quick hitch route, but couldn't complete the action of the catch. Newton managed to connect well with Kelvin Benjamin for two touchdowns, the first of which was a rocket shot between the numbers on a quick slant in the red zone. The second came late on with the game out of reach, with Benjamin out-jumping the defensive back on a high pass into the end zone. Newton made a crucial error in the fourth quarter with an interception that was returned for a touchdown, staring down his receiver in the flat and allowing Kam Chancellor to run it back. This proved to be a recurring theme for Newton in this game - and it was punished by Seattle's unforgiving defense. Newton operated quite well for the most part in the eye of the storm, but simple mistakes ended up costing him and his team dearly.
2013 Week 1 vs SEA (16 / 23 / 125 / 1 / 0 pass, 5 / 38 / 0 rush)
Although the box score numbers may not reflect it, Cam Newton produced as poised and patient a display as he has ever had against the Seattle defense. Newton settled into a rhythm early, finding success off play action and converting a pair of third downs with crisp, accurate passes. Newton was let down on a couple of occasions by tight end Greg Olsen, notably on a well-thrown seam pattern that Olsen dropped as he fell to the ground. New offensive coordinator Mike Shula kept things fairly close to the line of scrimmage and many of Newton's passes were 15 yards or less, but there were a few deep shots, including a seam pass to Brandon LaFell which was thrown a few yards too far ahead, which stood out. Newton's decision-making was the highlight of the game; apart from a late throw to the sideline that was close to being intercepted, he was safe with the football. Under duress, Newton was impressive, stepping up and out of the pocket when he had to and finding his checkdown when required. Newton was not used only a drop back passer; he kept drives alive with designed runs. Newton capped off a solid performance with a touchdown pass in the red zone to favorite target Steve Smith. Smith found separation on a shallow cross and Newton showed great patience to wait for his receiver to come open, doing an even better job rifling the pass in between defenders.
2013 Week 2 vs BUF (21 / 38 / 229 / 2 / 1 pass, 4 / 15 / 0 rush)
It was a solid start on the day for Newton, connecting on three of his first four passes for a total of 49 yards. Carolina's first drive was derailed, however, when pressure from Buffalo's defensive line sacked Newton for a loss of six. On the subsequent play, Newton was looking for Brandon LaFell on a 10 yard curl route, but Cam must not have seen LB Kiko Alonso, who was in perfect position to undercut the route, and come away with the drive-ending interception. Newton had four rushes on the day, the first of which coming on a read-option keeper for two yards. On the subsequent play, his receivers were well covered, and he decided to take off on a scramble for six yards, setting up third and two. The drive ended on the very next play, Newton being unable to find a receiver, resulting in a sack for Mario Williams, who stuffed the stat sheet for Buffalo with 4.5 sacks. Carolina's third drive ended, still scoreless, when Newton's third down pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage. The scoring draught continued for Carolina, as on their fourth series, needing nine for the first down, Newton severely overthrew Steve Smith on a 15-yard dig route. Yet another scoreless drive ended when Mario Williams took down Newton in the middle of the pocket for his third sack of the first half. Finally, on the two-minute drive before the end of the first half, Newton and company were able to move the ball down the field on Buffalo's defense, finishing with a thirteen yard touchdown to Greg Olsen, and putting points on the scoreboard for the first time. Newton was sacked on yet another third down by, you guessed it, Mario Williams. Williams showed excellent pad level, beating his man around the edge for his fourth sack of the game. A drive helped by defensive holding on the following punt, Carolina was able to move the ball effectively before Newton connected deep up the left sideline to a wide open Ted Ginn. Receivers had been running past their defensive backs a few times on the day, but this was the first time that Newton and the Panthers were able to capitalize. On a drive given new life by a Buffalo personal foul, Newton made a regrettable decision, throwing to WR Armanti Edwards, when a DB broke on the pass and almost picked it off for six. The drive ended on the next play when Newton once again overshot an open Ted Ginn up the right sideline. Cam pounded one up the middle into a cloud of dust for three yards, picking up the first down and taking the ball to the Buffalo four. Cam tried to buy some time on third down, but was eventually sacked once again by Mario Williams near the right sideline, causing the Panthers to settle for another field goal. On a key third down with five minutes left in the game, Newton didn't see anything he liked downfield and scrambled toward the left side of the field for four yards. There were some promising signs from Newton on the day, as there usually are, but on Sunday in Buffalo, Cam once again left you wanting more. Whether it was the inefficiency on third downs, or the trend of overthrowing his open wide receivers down the field, Newton and the Carolina passing offense could have done more to seal this game. One may question the decision to kick the field goal up three with 1:38 left in the game, but overall, this football game was lost in the earlier stages. Carolina had plenty of chances to put points on the board, but they came away one point short. The offensive line pass protected fairly well, receivers did their jobs, and although the running game was very average, this loss is shouldered by Cam.
2013 Week 3 vs NYG (15 / 27 / 223 / 3 / 1 pass, 7 / 45 / 1 rush)
Despite an uneasy start taking an unnecessary sack and throwing an ill-advised pass to Steve Smith on a dig route, Cam Newton rebounded nicely to lead his team to a victory on home turf. The Panthers wasted no time in unleashing their most potent offensive weapon, calling designed runs for Newton to use his speed and athleticism. Newton and the Panthers surprised the Giants with some triple option looks whereby Newton would either give or keep on an inside handoff to Tolbert, and had the option to run himself or pitch to DeAngelo Williams on the boundary. This seemed to spark Newton into life; he came just a few yards short of the goal line after an inverted veer keeper run in the first half. Under pressure, Newton threw a slow pass to the sideline intended for Brandon LaFell. LaFell failed to come back to the football when running his deep comeback and the cornerback was able to step in front for the pick. It was an ambitious throw for Newton to attempt from the far hash, but LaFell was just as much to blame. After the pick, Newton rebounded in impressive fashion, tossing three touchdown passes. Targeting LaFell once again, Newton lofted a beautiful pass to the back left pylon as his receiver ran a corner route. The ball was placed so that only LaFell could catch it. Newton displayed excellent touch on the pass. The quarterback went back to the same receiver for his second touchdown pass. With LaFell running a shortened streak pattern out of a bunch set, Newton spotted the defensive back turning his back and timed his pass perfectly to LaFell, hitting him right between the numbers. A comfortable Newton, with little pressure coming from the Giants' pass rush, found Ted Ginn Jr. streaking down the middle of the field to record his third touchdown. The single high safety, who had deep third responsibility in Cover 3, bit on an underneath pattern, allowing Ginn to breeze past the cornerback, who had no help over the top. Newton placed the football right in Ginn's stride with incredible touch and accuracy. With the game in hand, Newton's number was called on the goal line and he obliged by ducking his head and powering home to the end zone. In Newton's most impressive performance of this young season, his touch, timing and the return of the option attack that served him so well in his first two seasons were key.
2013 Week 5 vs ARI (21 / 39 / 308 / 0 / 3 pass, 4 / 25 / 0 rush)
A poised Cam Newton was afforded good protection early and was firing bullet passes into his receivers with a high degree of accuracy. Newton was not daunted by the prospect of Patrick Peterson covering his top target Steve Smith, firing a pass into his receiver on a crucial third down in the end zone early on, only to see it dropped. With offensive coordinator Mike Shula sticking to some pistol and options looks, Newton got into an early rhythm. However, the pressure began to build and the Cardinals' front seven took control of proceedings. Arizona used Daryl Washington as a spy on Newton, keeping him in the pocket and chasing him down when the quarterback looked for an escape route. The Panthers offensive line struggled to keep out the Cardinals as they sent blitz after blitz. Newton targeted Smith on a deep route down the right sideline as the half came to a close, but the pass was underthrown and Peterson picked it off. Newton followed that error up with a costly red zone interception in the fourth quarter. Newton looked for Smith on the slant route, but Newton's nemesis on the day Daryl Washington stepped in front. If not for Newton chasing Washington down, it could have been a pick six. On the play, Newton was looking for Smith the entire way and likely did not see Washington dropping into coverage. On a day the Panthers' offensive line was overwhelmed by a swarming defensive front, Newton added a third pick in the final moments, the ball fluttering into Karlos Dansby's hands after pressure up the middle knocked the ball out of Newton's grasp. What had started as an in-control display by Newton quickly turned into an error-strewn one; much of the credit has to go to Arizona's unforgiving defense that gave Carolina's pass protection fits, but Newton's errors were costly.
2013 Week 6 vs MIN (20 / 26 / 242 / 3 / 0 pass, 9 / 30 / 1 rush)
After an early scare with a near-interception on the first play from scrimmage, Cam Newton settled into the game quickly and soon found his rhythm. With his offensive line giving him enough time to set his feet and scan the field, Newton was able to find his receivers with accurate, zipped passes. There was a steady dose of the designed runs that Newton thrives on as well, as Mike Shula continues to take the shackles off what was labelled as a conservative offense in the first couple of weeks of the season. Newton put his legs to good use early on as he escaped a Vikings defender's clutches, bounding around left end for a key first down. Newton made good decisions throughout and showed excellent poise when the Vikings brought extra rushers, as they did on his first touchdown pass, a one-yard hook up with Steve Smith. Smith ran a shallow cross out of a bunched receiver set and Newton kept his poise ˝ absorbing a hit for his troubles ˝ as he released the pass for the touchdown. With a steady dose of the ground game to help him out and keep the Vikings' rushers honest, Newton added a second touchdown pass, albeit an unconventional one, on the Panthers' next trip to the red zone. Newton took the snap and went to sprint right, but instead flipped the ball to Mike Tolbert, who was crossing in front of him. The bruising power back did the rest to give Newton his second touchdown pass. The third came as a result of some poor play in the Vikings' secondary, but Newton did well to re-set his feet after initially feeling the rush to find his target Brandon LaFell. The routes run by Ted Ginn and Brandon LaFell confused the Vikings secondary, and Newton needed only to loft a pass out to LaFell, who did the rest himself ˝ with the help of a de-cleating block by Ted Ginn. In a smart performance by Newton, he added a fourth touchdown on the ground to make it 28-3, shrugging off a defender and getting loose for a seven-yard run when the Panthers were once again set up in the red zone. The improved play of the offensive line was a big factor in Newton's success as they gave up only one sack.
2013 Week 7 vs STL (15 / 17 / 204 / 1 / 0 pass, 10 / 26 / 0 rush)
In another highly efficient, error-free performance, Cam Newton continued to show a maturity that has been a feature of his season. What stood out most was Newton's pinpoint accuracy. Even when his receivers were well covered on his first read, he would calmly go through his progressions and fire lasers to a spot where the defensive back in coverage had no chance to jump the route or make a play on the ball. In general, the Panthers' offensive line gave Newton time to throw, but the Rams' front four proved troublesome at times, forcing Newton to use his legs. He did just that to good effect on a few occasions, running for first downs and making tacklers miss. Compared to previous weeks, there was less emphasis on the designed quarterback run in Mike Shula's game plan. Newton's lone touchdown pass came on a beautifully executed pass to Steve Smith in the red zone. Newton had to wait for Smith to come open as he crossed the formation, but a brave Newton stood in the pocket with a rusher in his face and delivered a beautiful pass to the outside. Smith duly converted for the score. Although not a dynamic, multi-touchdown performance, this was another example of Newton's progression as a poised pocket passer.
2013 Week 8 vs TB (23 / 32 / 221 / 2 / 0 pass, 11 / 50 / 1 rush)
A thriving Cam Newton oozed with confidence throughout this contest against the winless Buccaneers, carrying forward his momentum from his last two games. In another clean performance with no turnovers, Newton's poise in the pocket, accuracy and running ability stood out. Unlike his first two seasons, Newton is no longer making decisions that hurt the team, instead making the smart play. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula has integrated a few designed runs into the offense that Newton is, for the most part, executing well. Option pitches, the inverted veer and designed runs between the tackles are just a few of the wrinkles that Newton is excelling at. As a passer, Newton displayed great pocket presence throughout and, apart from taking a couple of needless sacks, made good decisions and looked comfortable behind an improving offensive line. An efficient Newton would have had three touchdown passes in all likelihood had a streaking Ted Ginn held on to a 70-yard pass down the sideline from Newton. The ball was placed perfectly for Ginn to run under, but the receiver let it go through his hands. In the first quarter, after an impressive drive with Newton-inspired third down conversions, he tossed his first touchdown pass. With a defender bearing down on him after a play fake, Newton kept his poise to find Greg Olsen wide open in the left side of the end zone. Olsen had run a drag route out of a heavy set on the goal line, but credit has to go to Newton for seeing the entire field and taking full advantage of a Tampa Bay defensive miscue. Newton's second touchdown pass came in the fourth quarter, also off play action, as he tossed a nice pass into the flat for full back Mike Tolbert. Tolbert, who had lost Mason Foster in coverage, dove in for the easy score. A determined Newton, having already run for first downs, added a rushing touchdown. Set up in the red zone, Newton recognized man coverage by Tampa Bay. With no spy assigned to stop Newton taking off, he duly obliged and bounded in for a six-yard touchdown. Things seem to have finally clicked for Newton, who is playing better than at any time in his career.
2013 Week 9 vs ATL (23 / 37 / 249 / 1 / 2 pass, 5 / 22 / 1 rush)
A two-interception performance pockmarked with inaccuracy issues brought Cam Newton back to earth after a turnover-free three-game stretch. Newton was put under pressure with early Atlanta blitzes, forcing him to escape the pocket and take an early sack. He seemed a bit antsy after that opening series, missing Steve Smith on a deep dig route, sailing the ball over his head. Newton started to settle into the game, brilliantly avoiding a sack at one point and rolling out to find a waiting Smith in the flat for a first down. Newton tossed his first interception since Week 5 on a deep pass that simply wasn't there. Two Falcons defenders were in the area in good coverage, and Newton seemed to release the ball a beat before he wanted to, with the pass rush bearing down on him. To his credit, he responded with a touchdown pass not long after, faking out the Falcons' defense on fourth-and-one and bootlegging out to the right flat to find Greg Olsen wide open in the end zone. Olsen had been left uncovered and it was an easy read for the quarterback, but his ball fake was exceptionally well done. With a chance to pile up more points before the half, Newton made another error resulting in a pick. He and Smith appeared to be on different wavelengths as Newton tossed a pass to the back pylon of the end zone, presumably expecting Smith to run a fade route. Instead, Smith cut his route short and ran a fade stop. The cornerback made an incredibly athletic toe-tapping dive for the ball to secure the pick, but the decision was a poor one by Newton. With the Panthers taking control late on, Newton added a score on the ground as he bounded around right end on a designed quarterback keeper in the red zone. Despite losing two guards, Newton managed to stay composed in the pocket and performed well off play action with the Panthers' rushing attack humming and delivered a decent showing despite correctable errors.
2013 Week 10 vs SF (16 / 32 / 169 / 0 / 1 pass, 7 / 17 / 0 rush)
A scattershot Cam Newton looked antsy early in this slugfest encounter in San Francisco, throwing too high for his receivers as his accuracy issues continued to rear their ugly head. Newton wasn't helped by the fact that his weapons continued to drop passes, with Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell making mental errors on what should have been easy completions. The Niners defense was able to get decent pressure on Newton throughout, but he managed to escape and produced some nice throws on the run, especially on third down. His lone interception of the game came on an unusual throw to the sideline ˝ the commentators speculated that he was trying to throw the ball out of bounds ˝ with no receiver in the area. He failed to use proper technique, using all arm to get the ball out rather than turning his body into the pass. Were it not for a huge spot of luck Newton would have thrown another pick, as a ball was tipped into the air by Navorro Bowman after he had his hands on it into the grateful arms of Greg Olsen. Newton calmed down in the second half and remained poised despite more incompletions and drops. The Niners defense kept Newton well-marshalled in the pocket, not allowing him to step up and out to run the ball. Newton had a bad exchange with center Ryan Kalil in the final moments in a scary moment for Carolina, but Newton had the presence of mind to dive on the loose ball. In what was a difficult environment to play in, Newton's inaccuracy continued to plague him, but it was a solid display overall for the young quarterback.
2013 Week 11 vs NE (19 / 28 / 209 / 3 / 0 pass, 7 / 62 / 0 rush)
In a performance that will be remembered by Panthers fans for a long time, Cam Newton produced a near-perfect display on the big stage of Monday Night Football. Newton had a few balls that got away from him, but in general he delivered the football on time and accurately as he and his receivers seemed to be perfectly in sync throughout. Against a Patriots front seven that essentially eliminated any threat on the ground from the Panthers' stable of backs, the pressure was put on Newton to deliver time and again. On third down he was particularly effective, going through his progressions with poise and finding his targets with precision. Newton was able to scramble to good effect when the rush was bearing down on him. One stood out as arguably the play of the night as Newton, according to an ESPN graphic, weaved his way past Patriots after dodging two in the backfield with slick sidesteps, to the tune of over 75 yards. The actual gain on the play was 14 yards, but it was an electrifying play to keep a drive alive. Newton's first touchdown pass of the day came on a beautiful dart to Brandon LaFell. Newton had pressure bearing down on him, but he stayed cool and fired over the middle to LaFell, who walked in. His second touchdown came on a wonderfully accurate pass on a deep out to Greg Olsen as the offense was set up in the red zone. Olsen released out of a stacked alignment, and he ran a good route to bamboozle the defensive back, who couldn't get over to him in time to cause an incompletion as Newton fired to the pylon for his tight end. Newton's third and game-winning touchdown was a simple hook route to Ted Ginn Jr. Newton placed the football where Ginn could run onto it and possibly run after the catch. The wiry speedster did just that, making the tackler miss and outrunning the remaining Patriots to the end zone. In an error-free game, Newton displayed incredible calm and veteran savvy that served as a further reminder of how far he has progressed as a quarterback.
2013 Week 12 vs MIA (19 / 38 / 174 / 1 / 1 pass, 8 / 51 / 1 rush)
In an uneven display that saw him flustered early and often by an aggressive Miami defense, Cam Newton showed good resilience to battle back. The Panthers offensive line was given all it could handle and Newton was often forced to break the pocket and run or stand it and deliver strikes. To his credit, he did both to good effect when called upon, including a beautiful zipped pass to Steve Smith against the blitz. Showing good accuracy throughout when he had decent time in the pocket, Newton let one loose for his lone interception of the day. Newton tried to get the ball to Brandon LaFell on a skinny post, but the pass seemed to be a beat late and the cornerback in coverage, knowing he had safety help over the top, undercut the low pass. It was an example of Newton forcing a pass that just wasn't there, something he didn't do often in this clash. Newton was let down on a couple of occasions by Ted Ginn, notably on a deep pass that Ginn allowed to hit his hands, but failed to reel in for what could have been a long touchdown. When the offense finally got into gear, it was the no huddle that ignited it. Newton capped off the Panthers' first drive of the second half with a rushing touchdown. Lined up in the shotgun five yards from the goal line, Newton optioned the defensive end, putting the ball into the belly of his running back, and pounced when he saw the end static. It was an easy run right up the middle for a score. Newton showed incredible poise in the final minutes as the Panthers drove for a game-winning score, hitting Smith on 4th-and-10 with a pinpoint pass and keeping the offense ticking along with short, accurate passes. Capping off a battling performance, Newton tossed his lone touchdown pass of the day to Greg Olsen. Lined up on the one, Olsen was given a free release and Newton needed only to loft a pass to him off play action to seal the game. Despite the good effort defensively by Miami, Newton remained composed in another comeback victory.
2013 Week 13 vs TB (18 / 29 / 263 / 2 / 2 pass, 5 / 68 / 1 rush)
In an efficient performance highlighted by a stellar offensive line effort, Cam Newton led the Panthers to an eighth straight victory. Newton handled the Bucs rush very well when it closed on him, taking advantage of a break in contain by defensive end Adrian Clayborn to scoot for 56 yards down the field. Newton could have ducked out of bounds, but skirted the sideline and benefited from a great Steve Smith block for a massive gain. Newton was within yards of scoring but was tripped up at the last second. In the pocket, he was composed and delivered some accurate passes on a frozen rope; at other times, however, he let himself down with high passes. One of his interceptions came on a target to Brandon LaFell across the middle, Newton zipping the pass in too high. LaFell went for it, but the ball bounced off his hands and fell into a Tampa Bay's safety's. Poor mechanics were the cause of Newton's second pick, as he failed to set his feet and drive into a throw, resulting in an inaccurate pass over the middle. Granted, he was under some heat, but the pocket seemed clean enough to either throw the ball away or deliver a more accurate pass. Newton made up for his sloppy plays, of which there were very few, with a pair of touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown. Taking advantage of a breakdown in the Tampa Bay secondary, Newton lofted a pass to a wide open LaFell on the back line of the end zone for a straightforward score. No Bucs defender was near LaFell. Newton added a second touchdown pass, as Ted Ginn burned Darrelle Revis on a 36-yard stop-and-go route. Revis went for the interception, allowing Newton to throw the pass in stride to a streaking Ginn for the score. Set up at the one-yard line on fourth-and-goal at the end of the first half, Newton dove over the pile, breaking the plane to score his rushing touchdown. The ball was knocked out, but the quarterback's leap and stretch of the ball was enough. Newton could have added a third touchdown pass, as he overthrew a streaking LaFell on a skinny post route by a yard or two. It was an overall comfortable day in the pocket for Newton, with the Bucs' pass rush neutralised by a strong rushing attack and great offensive line play. Newton went through his progressions very calmly and always had an outlet receiver to throw to when the pass rush bore down on him, but he still has some inaccuracy issues to clean up.
2013 Week 14 vs NO (22 / 34 / 160 / 1 / 0 pass, 6 / 48 / 0 rush)
After a decent start littered with short, ball control passing, Cam Newton's night turned sour as the Saints pass rush began to close in on him. This went hand in hand with the Panthers' inability to convert third downs and, on the other side of the ball, New Orleans' efficiency on offense. Newton showed good poise at times and an early scramble for 19 yards against the blitz was a good decision by the quarterback. Utilising the read option in the opening salvos, Newton showed good patience at the mesh with DeAngelo Williams and made good reads to pick up positive gains. However, with the game script turning the way of New Orleans and Carolina forced to pass first, Newton started to become a little bit skittish in the pocket. Instead of stepping up, he continued to back up, inviting the rush. When he could step up into the pocket he was given ample time to pick out his targets; often, they just weren't open. Newton had a chance to connect with tight end Greg Olsen down the seam, but the Saints coverage forced Newton to put the pass into a tight area, a task he couldn't complete when asked. In general he showed good patience going through his reads, but his rushing threat that troubled the Saints early went by the wayside as Carolina went into pass-first mode. Newton managed to find Steve Smith late on for his lone touchdown pass on an otherwise uninspiring day for the Panthers. Smith, after some hand fighting with cornerback Keenan Lewis, bought a yard of space. Newton, meanwhile, escaped the pocket and rolled right, firing a dart into Smith's waiting hands. It was one of a handful of bright spots in a turnover-free, if limp, performance by Newton.
2013 Week 15 vs NYJ (16 / 24 / 273 / 1 / 0 pass, 7 / 12 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton was able to pass with ease against a vulnerable New York defense that allowed 273 yards. New York's Front 7 did an excellent job of keeping Newton in the pocket by spying middle linebacker David Harris, but Newton had no issue throwing all over New York's secondary. Despite only rushing for 12 yards on seven carries, Newton's rushing ability created opportunities for DeAngelo Williams, who totaled 168 yards. Late in the second quarter, Newton called a designed screen pass for Williams that resulted in a 72-yard catch and run touchdown. Carolina's blockers, namely the wide receivers, all dominated their assignments as Williams ran virtually untouched into the end zone. This big play propelled Carolina a 13-6 second quarter lead that they would continue to add to. Right before halftime, Newton was awkwardly tackled and appeared to slightly injure his ankle. Newton did not miss any snaps, but his rushing ability was clearly compromised in the second half. Early in the third quarter, Ron Rivera opted to go for a 4th-and-2 play on New York's 14-yard line. Carolina boasted a 10-point lead and as we've watched in prior weeks, this is where Newton digs deep and makes plays with his legs. However, Carolina called a quick slant to Steve Smith that was broken up. It was a surprising decision, so check the injury reports this week to see whether his ankle continues to cause discomfort. Overall, it was a 'ho hum' performance for Newton. Newton's passing statistics were buoyed by Williams' 72-yard catch and run. In addition, Carolina defense was responsible for one touchdown. Newton took turns picking on each of New York's corners and routinely found Greg Olsen and Brandon LaFell downfield for big gains. With a home win against the New Orleans Saints next week, Carolina has a chance to win the NFC South.
2013 Week 16 vs NO (13 / 22 / 181 / 1 / 1 pass, 4 / 6 / 0 rush)
Nursing sore ankles, Cam Newton did not look like his usual dynamic self against the Saints. It seemed he was uncomfortable stepping into throws and as a result his passes flew high and wide of their intended targets. His ability to run was also hampered and he lacked a spring in his step. His first pass of the day belied that injury and its effects, however, as he released a perfect pass on time to Steve Smith down the seam for 44 yards. It all went downhill from there, as Newton struggled to establish a rhythm. Conservative play-calling played a part; it is possible offensive coordinator Mike Shula was aware of Newton's limitations due to injury and acted accordingly to protect him. Newton got off to a bad start, throwing a red-zone interception as a pass intended for Ted Ginn was thrown too high, tipped and duly intercepted by the waiting Saints defense. With the Saints sending heavy pressure and Newton backing up in the pocket, thus inviting the rush, he was sacked four times. Nevertheless, he battled through it and delivered his best pass of the game - and possibly one of his best of the season - to Ginn on a crossing pattern in the final seconds of the game. The offensive line gave Newton ample time, but he delivered an inch-perfect pass, showing great anticipation of when Ginn would come free. Newton followed that up with his lone touchdown pass of the game, a strike on an out pattern to Domenik Hixon, who was only in the game because of an injury to Steve Smith. The pass was thrown where only Hixon could catch it and it was a strong finish by Newton despite his struggles.
2013 Week 17 vs ATL (15 / 27 / 149 / 2 / 1 pass, 12 / 72 / 0 rush)
In another scattershot performance by Cam Newton, the quarterback showed good patience and an evolving veteran poise to overcome a stubborn Falcons defense in his hometown. Newton took an early shot that seemed to unsettle him, many of his passes sailing over the heads of the intended receivers. This has been a problem all season for Newton, whose accuracy may be affected by his lingering ankle injury. Newton missed Brandon LaFell down the seam, Greg Olsen on the sideline and Domenik Hixon. The Hixon miss proved costly as the ball was tipped into the air and intercepted. Newton's pass was delivered far too high for Hixon to reel in. Newton relied on his legs a great deal when the play broke down and produced a couple of incredible scrambles, including one in which he must have covered about 65 yards to travel 15 yards. Newton put together a drive when the Panthers needed it most and hit Ted Ginn Jr. for his first touchdown pass of the game. Ginn ran a shallow cross and another receiver Űpicked' the defensive back in coverage on Ginn, allowing Newton to find him wide open. Newton followed this up with an impressive second, a dart to Olsen in the red zone. Newton bought time with his legs to allow his receivers time to get open and fired a beautiful laser to his tight end, low and away from the defenders in the area. In a controlled display, Newton showed his battling qualities despite continued issues with accuracy.
2013 Week 19 vs SF (16 / 25 / 267 / 1 / 2 pass, 10 / 54 / 0 rush)
In a game of two halves for Newton, a disjointed second-half performance proved his and the Panthers' undoing. The Niners defense gradually began to exert more pressure on Newton and the quarterback didn't help his offensive line at times by withdrawing from pressure instead of stepping up into the pocket. However, in the first half Newton handled the rush very well, getting into his stride with some runs early on. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula, seeing the traditional rushing attack falter, turned to the read option and Newton had some success as he made the correct reads and found some room to the outside. It was in the passing attack that he struggled, especially in the second half. The Niners, after allowing Steve Smith to influence matters in the opening stanza, shut him down after the interval with tight coverage and more disciplined play. Newton was off target on occasion with his passes as has become a trademark of his game, but these passes didn't harm Carolina until a high pass to Brandon LaFell came off the receiver's hands. It landed fortuitously in the arms of Patrick Willis for Newton's first interception. Newton's second interception was much more flagrant an error and was completely his fault as a pass down the seam intended for Greg Olsen was read perfectly by safety Donte Whitner. Olsen was well covered and Newton had no business throwing the pass and presumably did so because the team was in desperation mode. Newton's lone touchdown pass was a thing of beauty as he lofted a perfect pass down the sideline and over a trailing cornerback's coverage to land the football in Steve Smith's grateful paws. It was a brave pass to attempt considering the tight coverage, but Newton trusted his receiver and he delivered
2012 Week 1 vs TB (23 / 33 / 303 / 1 / 2 pass, 5 / 4 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton, despite passing for over 300 yards and producing some typical moments of magic at times, was overwhelmed by an active and disciplined Tampa Bay defensive front on Sunday. With the Panthers trailing 13-0 early, a pass-heavy approach put a lot of pressure on Newton, who was often forced to take the check down against a predominantly zone Tampa defense. Newton often tried to escape the pocket, but when flushed out he was quickly corralled by a Bucs defender. Newton had a good command of the offense and had several highlight plays, notably a 51-yard completion on a 9-route to Louis Murphy. However, his interceptions were costly ones. The first was an example of Newton's overzealous mentality to make a play; he threw a pass to Brandon LaFell in the middle of the field, but his receiver was surrounded by Buccaneers. A good tip drill by CB Aqib Talib led to a pick. His second was a result of poor footwork and being under duress. Against Cover-1, Newton threw a high pass to Smith down the left sideline with CB Eric Wright pinning Smith to the boundary. The FS Ahmad Black flew over and picked it off, but the ball was left too far to the inside. Newton did fire a touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell, who was open in large part due to a coverage breakdown. In the red zone, Newton was used as a runner a couple of times, but each time he was met by a wall of Buccaneers - clearly, it was something they had game-planned for. Carolina must be a more balanced offense to allow Newton to flourish. Despite the loss, his prospects look good.
2012 Week 2 vs NO (14 / 20 / 253 / 1 / 0 pass, 13 / 71 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton rebounded from the loss last week in style against the Saints, willing his team to a win with precision passing, sound progressions on his reads and a steady dose of the running game. The Panthers offensive game plan could not have been more different from Week 1. The zone-read option was a huge part of what they did, and Newton benefited with several big runs, including a load option play in the first quarter which went for 30+ yards. Newton played in control the entire game behind an offensive line that afforded him ample time. He tossed a touchdown pass to Jonathan Stewart on a throwback screen to get off the mark on the day, and later added a rushing touchdown on a QB Power play in the red zone. Newton did a good job of moving the defensive backs with his eyes for his chunk plays on offense, many of which went to reliable target Brandon LaFell. Newton's lone error came on a failed option pitch in the red zone which was fumbled and recovered by the Saints. It came on 4th and inches, but it took points off the board. Overall, Newton looked every bit the top-five fantasy quarterback that he is.
2012 Week 3 vs NYG (16 / 30 / 242 / 0 / 3 pass, 6 / 6 / 1 rush)
Amid speculation that the Panthers are privately concerned about Cam Newton's mental make-up, Newton called this performance an 'embarrassment' and was chewed out by WR Steve Smith for his reaction on the sideline. In the game, Newton's fortunes were not much better. The Panthers got behind quickly in this game, meaning the ground game had to be put aside. The Giants front four got after Newton and snuffed out QB runs and zone read plays very effectively. With the bread and butter of the Panthers' offense taken away, Newton had to force some passes. In all, he threw three interceptions. The first was a ball fired a little behind WR Brandon LaFell after Newton failed to follow through his throwing motion. The ball was tipped and fell into the CB's hands. The second was a throw down the middle of the field - perhaps ill-advised - picked off by LB Michael Boley, who was playing zone. The final interception was a red zone pick with only a couple of minutes left. Things snowballed for Newton, who made some decent throws despite the doom and gloom. He salvaged his fantasy value with a rushing touchdown in the second half. This was a game in which everything went wrong for the Panthers, so unless his play deteriorates horribly, continue to trust Newton as a top-five fantasy quarterback.
2012 Week 4 vs ATL (15 / 24 / 215 / 2 / 0 pass, 9 / 86 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton recovered from a three-interception display last week with a strong showing against the still-undefeated Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers stuck to their strength of running the football out of multiple looks, including the speed option, zone read (reading defensive ends, linebackers and safeties) and straight-up power concepts. Newton took the football on a 30-yard gallop in the first quarter on a zone read play, for example. Newton was afforded very good protection throughout the game and only had to move his feet when the Falcons brought five or more pass rushers. His decision-making was sound barring one or two ill-advised passes down the middle of the field in the two-minute drill. Newton delivered accurate passes to his receivers down the field consistently overall. He tossed his first touchdown pass of the game to Greg Olsen - lined up as a wide-out - on a hitch route. Steve Smith, in the slot beside Olsen, attracted the attention of the safety, allowing Newton to fire to Olsen. His tight end did the rest. Later, Newton showed off his red zone running abilities, carrying the football on consecutive plays to convert a third down and score a touchdown. Newton's second touchdown pass came on a WR screen pass to the speedy Kealoha Pilares, who dashed ahead thanks to some good blocks for the score. Despite the defeat, Newton performed very well, was judicious in his use of the football and set a career-high single-game rushing total.
2012 Week 5 vs SEA (12 / 29 / 141 / 0 / 0 pass, 7 / 42 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton was constantly hassled and harried by a Seattle front seven that refused to quit in this game, resulting in one of his poorer showing of his young career. While Newton did manage to gain some yards with his feet, the successful attempts were few and far between. Seattle's front seven simply dominated the point of attack and forced Newton into errant throws. Newton tried to escape the pocket on occasion and run for the first down, but was chased down from behind on both occasions. Newton could have thrown two or three picks in the first half had Seattle's defensive players held on to his passes. Newton's accuracy was poor in this game, and no play summed it up more than the missed touchdown pass in the waning moments. Set in the red zone, Newton faked to the back and rolled right. With two eligible receivers (both tight ends) at the back of the end zone wide open, Newton one-hopped the pass, essentially ending the game. The pressure seemed to get to Newton all game long, and one can't help wonder if he felt the rush that wasn't even there on this play. Seattle's pass rush was dominant throughout and would have given any quarterback a hard time on this day, but the up and down nature of Carolina's passing attack has to be a major concern.
2012 Week 7 vs DAL (21 / 37 / 233 / 1 / 1 pass, 6 / 64 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton continued his disappointing sophomore season with a decent display against the Cowboys on Sunday. Newton found himself under pressure often, possibly owing to the absence of stalwart center Ryan Kalil and the subsequent shuffling that affected the offensive line. Newton had to escape the pocket early on, and thanks to Dallas' inability to keep outside contain on one occasion, Newton raced down the sideline for a sizeable gain. Newton had to throw in the face of interior pressure throughout the afternoon and did a good job resetting his feet and firing strikes when the throwing lanes opened. Most of Newton's best passes came on play action off the zone read look, which Dallas' linebackers had to respect. The Panthers would have a slot receiver sneak inside and run a post or square-in to take advantage. Newton was not used as a weapon in the red zone, the area where he threw his only interception of the day. Newton was immediately pressured up the middle and made the ill-advised decision to throw the ball as he was being taken to the ground. Opportunistic CB Morris Claiborne dove low for the easy pick. Newton erased that memory with a touchdown strike on a shallow cross to Brandon LaFell, also in the red zone. It was a smart decision by Newton, who saw LaFell break open - he was clearly not the first read on the play. In previous weeks, Newton had struggled to take the short completions and was 'forcing' things, said his coach Ron Rivera. This week saw progress in this area, as Newton spread the football around and was happy to take the check-down when it presented itself. The fact remains that something is amiss with this offense. Newton's post-game comments alluding to OC Rob Chudzinski were revealing and a change could come.
2012 Week 8 vs CHI (20 / 39 / 314 / 0 / 2 pass, 5 / 37 / 0 rush)
There were times when Newton looked like the Newton from 2011. Other times, he looked as shaky as he has all season long. One thing which stood out to me in watching the game a few times is that his release point is all over the place. I first noticed it late in the first quarter. On a 2nd and 15 play, Newton threw towards Steve Smith who was on a short slant and pretty open. The pass was a worm-burner, low and at Smith's feet. When you back up the game, you can see Newton's release point is late and low--he's throwing downwards. Over the next few plays, he releases high and really high. There are lots of reasons Newton is struggling--mechanics seem to be a real culprit in terms of his accuracy though. Newton got lucky a few times, most notably on the touchdown at the start of the second quarter. The play was a delayed quarterback run, and Newton did a great job selling that he was going to pass. He ran, got the first down and was on his way to a touchdown when tackled. He might have made it in but we'll never know because he was holding the ball like a loaf of bread, so it was easily punched out by Bears safety Major Wright. Luckily for Newton, the ball was recovered in the end zone by his own player. He wasn't lucky on his first interception, though. Under pressure, Newton tried to throw the ball away, near a receiver, but really he was just dumping the ball to avoid the sack. Bears defensive back Tim Jennings made a ridiculous dive for the ball and intercepted the pass. Maybe Newton should have thrown it harder and further out of bounds, but Jennings made a huge play intercepting that ball. There are a lot of issues with this offense. The offensive line is streaky, and were not good at run blocking Sunday, the play calling was all over the place. However a lot of Newton's issues on Sunday seemed to be mechanical in nature, either not setting his feet, bad release points, hurried throws for no reason--all contributed to some huge missed opportunities in the passing game for Cam Newton.
2012 Week 9 vs WAS (13 / 23 / 201 / 1 / 0 pass, 8 / 37 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton, without being spectacular, played a solid game against the Redskins. Newton is still missing open receivers on passes he should be completing easily, but at the same time he is firing frozen ropes off his back foot to the far hash as well. Newton's up and down mechanics contribute to this; often he feels pressure when there is none and doesn't step fully into his throws. Considering the good job the pass protection did, this was strange to see. Newton got the nod on the goal line late in the game and he finished the drive, diving in for a short-yardage touchdown. The Panthers returned to some zone read looks throughout the game, with Newton making the correct read for the most part. Newton's lone touchdown pass came on a beautifully lofted fade pass to Steve Smith, who went over the defender to make the play. All in all, it was a controlled game plan by the Panthers' offense that kept Newton in manageable situations. Newton was efficient off play action shots and did not turn the football over, a positive sign as he continues his growth as a player.
2012 Week 10 vs DEN (21 / 36 / 241 / 2 / 2 pass, 4 / 7 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton was battered and bruised by a Broncos defense that did not let up the entire game and exposed the Panthers' pass protection time and time again. After keeping the Broncos off balance with some clever play-calling, once they fell behind Newton had no chance in the pocket, often having to roll out and take sacks when the downfield options were covered. Elvis Dumervil forced a fumble late on that Newton somehow managed to recover. This threat of being hit and hurried flustered Newton as the game wore on. Most of Newton's biggest plays in terms of yardage came on well-executed screen passes to his backs. Although Newton tried to go downfield, the Broncos defensive backs blanketed the receivers so well that there was no window to throw into. Newton tossed his first touchdown pass after a methodical drive, finding Greg Olsen sneaking out the backside of the play in the red zone after he faked a down block. It was one of the easiest touchdown passes Newton will ever have - the Broncos defense simply lost him. The turning point of the contest was a pick-six Newton threw after the Panthers had just recovered a fumble. Feeling the rush, Newton rolled to his left and threw an ill-advised pass to his receiver on the sideline. The CB had a beat on it, however, and drove on the football for an easy score. It was not dissimilar to Newton's pick at the end of the second quarter against the Chicago Bears. Once the Panthers trailed by a large margin, Newton tried his hardest to get into a rhythm offensively, but it wasn't happening - the Panthers were 0/11 on third down through four and a half quarters. Newton tossed a consolation touchdown pass in the fourth, again to favourite target Olsen and again in the red zone. Olsen ran a shallow cross, escaping the LB in coverage and cleverly reaching the ball out over the goal line as he was being tackled. Newton's day ended with another interception, almost this was a forced pass down the middle with less than two minutes that was tipped into the air by his own receiver and into the grateful arms of a Broncos S. The Panthers' pass protection really let him down in this contest, but his level of play in terms of accuracy and pocket presence is still not where it needs to be.
2012 Week 11 vs TB (16 / 29 / 252 / 1 / 0 pass, 11 / 40 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton showed some signs of improvement from last week's rather inauspicious display against Denver when he was sacked seven times. The offensive line is the root of all the Panthers' problems, but Newton was more willing to escape the pocket and felt pressure much better this week. He stepped up and delivered the football on time - not all were completions, but the progression was there to see. Newton had a turnover-free day, but a key completion on third down in the fourth quarter on an out pattern to Louis Murphy was a very risky throw and could easily have gone the other way for six. Newton's bad habits still haunt him to an extent - poor footwork, lazy mechanics and by extension, accuracy. Newton went back to his bread and butter in this game, simply running the ball himself when no receiver came open. On one 13-yard scramble, Newton juked a defender out of his shoes and left him for dead. It was reminiscent of 2011 Newton. Newton thrives off play action, and this is how his only touchdown pass of the day came about. Brandon LaFell got a clean release in the slot, and the pause that the fake gave the linebackers allowed Newton to fire a laser to LaFell over their heads. Newton's comfort level seemed to improve as the game progressed; he found Steve Smith with an accurate, zipped pass as he rolled out of the pocket. Newton's main issue is his offensive line, which is giving him little time to survey the field. However, part of that is on him; he must release the football more quickly. Overall, it was an encouraging display from Newton despite the loss.
2012 Week 12 vs PHI (18 / 28 / 306 / 2 / 0 pass, 14 / 52 / 2 rush)
Cam Newton reminded us all what he is capable of on Monday night in Philadelphia with a four-touchdown display. The offense still revolves around the zone read concepts - and it seems OC Rob Chudzinski will stick to these - but Newton executed his fakes very well in this game, bamboozling an overpursuing Eagles defense. At times, Newton showed outstanding touch on his passes, including on a 23-yard pass to Greg Olsen as he was being pressured in the pocket. However, Newton still has moments that make you question his ability to make stick throws, namely a pair of inaccurate balls to Brandon LaFell in the two-minute drill at the end of the first half. In the red zone, Newton became the primary ball carrier; on two occasions, he followed his pulling guard or tight end and powered the football into the end zone. This is an aspect of the offense that teams have been game planning for defensively, but good execution and effort meant they paid off this time. Newton tossed two touchdown passes to cap off a great statistical outing. The first came on a sluggo-seam concept. Newton pumped the slant and go to Steve Smith wide, then came back to his tight end Gary Barnidge running a seam route. The Eagles brought a blitz on the play, and playing Cover-3, no defender picked up Barnidge, leaving him unimpeded to the end zone. Newton's second touchdown pass came on a similar pass for 43 yards to Brandon LaFell, who was also left wide open by the Eagles' defense. Newton continues to struggle in some areas, but his legs kept many drives alive. If he can improve his accuracy and if he continues to excel off play action as he does, he can be an upper echelon passer.
2012 Week 13 vs KC (15 / 27 / 232 / 3 / 0 pass, 7 / 78 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton delivered yet another explosive performance against the Chiefs, following up his dynamic display on Monday Night Football. For the most part, Newton was comfortable in the pocket with the Panthers keeping in extra backs and tight ends to block against the underrated Chiefs pass rush. At times, his footwork let him down as it did in previous weeks, notably on a couple of straightforward screen passes to the outside. Newton was able to establish a rapport with number one target Steve Smith, especially after an injury to a Chiefs' starting cornerback. Newton exploited this mismatch on his second touchdown pass, a nicely-floated 23-yard strike down the left sideline. What was impressive in the play was how Newton manipulated the FS by looking right, then throwing left. This kind of eye-faking is something that hasn't become a staple of Newton's game, but it is an area he can definitely use effectively. Prior to that, Newton found TE Greg Olsen down the seam off play action - where Newton thrives as a passer - after a defensive breakdown. Seeing the error, Newton immediately pounced on it and let Olsen do the rest for a 47-yard score. The nuances of Newton's game took a step forward, as he was able to take the check down and make more mature decisions with the football in pressure situations. His ball placement on a deep out to Smith was absolutely perfect and lauded by commentator Mike Martz for its velocity. Newton was let down by a horrible drop by Brandon LaFell in the second half. LaFell dropped a sure touchdown as he stood merely five yards from the end zone. Newton made the correct read on the play as the Chiefs were blitzing and he had a one-on-one match-up with LaFell vs. a safety. Newton managed to gain 78 yards on the ground in addition to his three-touchdown passing display. The read option fooled the Chiefs on many occasions and Newton blasted through gaps, made tacklers miss and looked dangerous on each of his carries. This is not the best Newton can play - there are still aspects of his game he needs to tweak - but it is close.
2012 Week 14 vs ATL (23 / 35 / 287 / 2 / 0 pass, 9 / 116 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton carried on his excellent streak of turnover-free games with a performance that oozed of maturity and the kind of star qualities that he has. Compared to previous weeks, the offensive line - despite an injury to RG Geoff Hangartner - kept Newton clean for most of the game, even when Atlanta brought 4+ pass rushers. Even when Atlanta got home, Newton was able to escape a sack on one occasion when it looked for all the world that he was 'in the grass'. Newton spun out of the grasp of DE Kroy Biermann and turned what could have been a negative play into a 13-yard scramble for a first down. Newton kept a level head throughout the game and seemed more calm than usual. His footwork was sound and he stepped into his downfield throws, which he attempted often with good success. He will be disappointed to have missed a wide open Louis Murphy on an out-and-up in the second quarter, however. Newton excelled off play action, as the Panthers' rushing attack clicked enough to make Atlanta respect it. He fired beautiful passes into tight windows on digs, crossing routes, outs, comebacks and hitches. Newton's decision-making could not be questioned; if his execution can improve in certain key areas (the red zone, for example), the Panthers can turn a 30-point outing into a 40-point one. Newton got into rhythm early, finding his TE Greg Olsen for his first touchdown pass at the end of a well-worked drive. Olsen ran a seam pattern and blew past the safety in coverage; what was impressive was Newton's pass. Seeing the size mismatch between Olsen and the DB, Newton tossed a pass high to the back line of the end zone. Olsen reeled it in impressively, but the touch Newton display was a thing of beauty. Newton tossed a screen pass in the final moments for a 53-yard score to DeAngelo Williams, who did most of the work himself after some good blocks to set him up. Newton electrified the crowd and the football world with a 72-yard touchdown run off the zone read. The DE Newton was reading on the play completely sold out for the inside run, allowing Newton to sprint up the left sideline. Steve Smith made a great block on the CB to spring his quarterback for the final few yards. It rounded off a very competent performance from Newton, who seems to be maturing as a passer these past few weeks.
2012 Week 15 vs SD (19 / 33 / 231 / 2 / 0 pass, 4 / 7 / 0 rush)
Newton turned in a rare highlight-free performance in this game, simply playing efficiently and effectively in leading his team to a convincing road victory. Despite the Charger pass defense putting him under pressure most of the afternoon, Newton stood tall in the pocket and looked confident in his passes and footwork. On the rare occasion the Chargers took him down, it wasn't without a fight. On one particular play, he was under heavy pressure and appeared to be getting sacked by the Chargers team picture, only to flip the ball out to RB Mike Tolbert for a nice 13-yard gain. He had earlier come close to connecting with Tolbert for a touchdown near the goal line, but the pass to a wide open Tolbert in the flat was batted down at the line. Which brings up the fact that Newton did catch a couple of breaks and did not play a flawless game. He nearly got intercepted late in the game on a pass over the middle that was just knocked down instead. On an earlier play, he was hit as he threw and the ball popped straight up in the air. Despite landing in the middle of the field, nobody on the San Diego defense was able to get to it. He was also fortunate on the touchdown pass to Williams that the score even happened at all. The pass was initially deflected, but still managed to make its way to Williams (who did the rest, taking off for a 45-yard touchdown scamper). He also took a couple of big hits in the game, one coming on a play on which he nearly scored. A designed draw run play up the middle saw him taken down at the 2-yard line. More importantly, replays showed later on that his knee was being looked at on the sideline and he appeared to be in considerable pain. Backup QB Derek Anderson was seen warming up on the sideline at one point, but Newton remained in the game. Newton later injured his hand, banging it on a helmet as he completed his follow through, but again he remained in the game. WR Steve Smith was Newton's favorite target in the game, and the two connected on a beautiful touchdown late in the game. Smith broke out to the right side of the end zone, and Newton, rolling out of the pocket, placed a ball low and away that only Smith could get to. With phenomenal ball skills, Smith cradles in the pass for the score and Newton's second touchdown of the game. One can safely say that the big Carolina lead actually hurt Newton's chances to put up huge stats, since he threw 27 passes in the first half and just 6 after halftime.
2012 Week 16 vs OAK (18 / 29 / 170 / 1 / 1 pass, 12 / 60 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton was harried and hurried by a Raiders' defense that seemed to be targeting him at times. However, the second year quarterback's reactions were less than encouraging. Newton found his rhythm early and was impressive with his subtle footwork in the pocket to buy time and space to find his receivers downfield. When nothing was there, Newton tucked and ran, notably a 29-yard scamper that electrified the crowd. In the red zone, seeing no-one open, Newton repeated the trick and ran left end for a score. As the game wore on, Newton's footwork disimproved owing to the pressure put on by Oakland's front four and an offensive line shuffle that went on after LG Amini Silatolu went down. Newton threw some inaccurate passes as a result, leaving Steve Smith out to dry on a WR screen with a high ball. Newton threw his first pick in over 150 attempts as a pass down the middle was tipped into the air by a Raider LB. It then landed in the hands of LB Miles Burris. Newton hit Steve Smith for a touchdown pass earlier in the game, looping the pass beautifully over the defender in coverage to the back right corner of the end zone as he rolled out to the right. Newton was often forced to move around and escape the pocket with his offensive line struggling, and he did this to good effect. The immature outbursts - including 'contacting an official' - notwithstanding, it was a decent performance from Newton.
2012 Week 17 vs NO (16 / 33 / 248 / 0 / 1 pass, 7 / 34 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton's development over the past few weeks as a pocket passer has been on a steady upward trend. More and more, Newton is displaying traits of a veteran passer. Notably, he has improved his footwork and decision-making. Against the Saints, all these attributes were on show again as he made a quick start. His athleticism was also evident on a beautiful Houdini-like spin move to escape a sack. Newton did get away with a couple of errant throws when he was forced to flush out of the pocket, including a sideline throw intended for Greg Olsen that the defensive back had a beat on and should probably have stepped in front of. When Newton made a costly error - a pick six - his response was encouraging. The interception came on a play that OC Rob Chudzinski has made a staple of his offense, the pump half-back screen. As Newton pumped one way and spun to throw the football to DeAngelo Williams, LB Jonathan Vilma jumped the route and had a walk-in touchdown. In Newton's defence, he had no time to adjust to Vilma closing in before the pass was thrown; it was a split-second decision. Newton's legs played a big part in the Panthers' offensive success; on more than one occasion, he saw nothing open downfield, tucked the ball and ran, often bravely and perhaps a little recklessly. Considering the patchwork offensive line that Newton is playing behind, his ability to make plays down the field and remain poised is fantastic to watch.
2011 Week 1 vs ARI (24 / 37 / 422 / 2 / 1 pass, 8 / 18 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton delivered a debut of the highest quality on Sunday against Arizona, becoming the first rookie quarterback in his debut to throw for over 400 yards. Newton was poised in the pocket, calmly going through his progressions on each passing play and crisply executing play fakes. In the face of pressure, he did not falter and found his receivers even if he had to throw off his back foot. His arm strength is tremendous and allows him to make to any location on the field. His accuracy was much improved from the preseason. He stepped in to every throw he could and delivered fast, accurate passes for the most part. Newton tossed his first NFL touchdown pass to Steve Smith as a corner blitz came from his left side. The corner that was covering Smith left the receiver for the safety behind him. Smith simply blew past the safety and Newton delivered a looping deep pass for Smith to run under. His second touchdown pass was better than the first. Newton threw a high ball up to Smith in the end zone on and out-and-go route, which Smith reeled in as he leaped high above the corner. Newton's lone big mistake of this game came when he targeted Smith on a dig route. The linebacker on the play, Daryl Washington, made a great read and broke on the pass. Newton led the team to the five yard line on a potentially game-tying drive, but his pass to Mike Goodson was a yard short. In all, it was a very accomplished display from the rookie quarterback. Newton will not produce like this every week, but he can be a borderline QB1 in fantasy football.
2011 Week 2 vs GB (28 / 46 / 432 / 1 / 3 pass, 10 / 53 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton followed up a stellar Week 1 performance against the Cardinals with one equally as impressive but riddled with more errors against a more opportunistic defense. Newton played with good poise in the pocket, calmly going through his progressions and finding the open receiver. Carolina used a lot of max protect, two man route schemes to allow Newton the time he needed against the Packers pass rush. In the red zone, Newton was used as a running option on quarterback draws and option plays. With no running game to speak of, the game was made more difficult for Newton due to the sheer number of pass attempts. Overall, his accuracy was decent although he did throw off his back foot once or twice. Newton's lone touchdown pass came to Brandon LaFell in the red zone on a nicely lofted touch pass to the right corner. Newton put just the right amount of touch on it for his tall receiver to go up and get it. On a two man route scheme, Newton tried to squeeze a pass in to Steve Smith but it was intercepted. Charles Woodson undercut the shallow crossing route. His second pick came when he had choppy feet in the pocket and, throwing off his back foot, he threw a pass towards Smith which was also picked off. His third interception was a high pass down the middle of the field which should have been caught by Naanee. It was a little high though, so Newton should take the blame. At the end of the game Newton ran in to the end zone for a rushing touchdown, something he is good for every week. His performance was another glimpse into his vast potential as a player.
2011 Week 3 vs JAX (18 / 34 / 158 / 1 / 0 pass, 7 / 27 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton played a rather up and down game against the Jaguars and slowed his early season momentum with several inaccurate passes and some near interceptions which, on another day against a superior team, would have cost the team. The near mistakes came about as a result of pressure. The Jaguars front four stifled Newton and kept him in the pocket, forcing him into chopping his feet and delivering wobbly passes. Newton's inaccuracy was also evident on some passes where he had a clean pocket too, including a pass down the seam to Jeremy Shockey which sailed over the receiver's head. Newton used his legs when necessary, coming up with some inspired runs and leaving defenders in the dust on more than one occasion. To his credit, he pulled himself together in the fourth quarter on the touchdown drive that would clinch the game for the Panthers. Down 10-8, Newton led the offense down the field, completing passes with accuracy and poise, culminating in a touchdown pass to Greg Olsen as the tight end beat the linebacker in man coverage to the inside for the walk-in score. Newton then delivered an impressive high-point pass to Olsen at the back of the end zone for the two point conversion; the location on the pass was inch-perfect. Newton came back to earth this week, although the playing conditions were not easy. His inaccuracy will be a concern for the Panthers coaching staff, who will undoubtedly seek to prevent situations in which he is contained in the pocket in future weeks.
2011 Week 4 vs CHI (27 / 46 / 374 / 1 / 1 pass, 8 / 35 / 2 rush)
Cam Newton continued his stellar start to his rookie campaign with a good display in Chicago. In a hostile environment with the crowd on his back, Newton directed the offense well in the early stages. The Panthers incorporated some read option plays, allowing Newton to read the backside DE and decide whether to keep it or give it to the back. Newton should have had a touchdown pass on the first drive had LaFell, the intended receiver, not lost his footing. Newton's accuracy was off only a few times in this game, but his first errant pass resulted in a pick six. Newton, backed up inside the ten, threw a pass in the middle of the field to Legedu Naanee with three Bears in his vicinity. Instead of being a low pass that only Naanee could catch, the pass was high. As a result it was tipped and picked off. Newton, to his credit, did not let it bother him and came back with a rushing touchdown, calling his own number off a boot action and out running the defender to the pylon. Newton connected often with Steve Smith who, despite taking massive hits for his trouble, secured the football. Newton lowered his shoulder for a second rushing touchdown later, following the blocks of his interior linemen. Newton showed some great touch on a sideline pass to Jeremy Shockey late in the game and several other times in the game as well. His tools as a passer are enviable. Newton threw a touchdown pass to Greg Olsen with only a few seconds left to finish the game, targeting his tight end on a simple stop route in the end zone. Newton continues to perform well and is a legitimate top ten quarterback in fantasy football.
2011 Week 5 vs NO (16 / 31 / 224 / 2 / 1 pass, 7 / 27 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton made the worst possible start to this game when he threw a pick in the left flat to a Saints CB. Newton thought the intended receiver Steve Smith was running an out pattern, when in fact he ran a quick slant. Newton recovered quickly from the setback, to his credit, and threw a strike to Legedu Naanee for 23 yards on a dig route to keep the chains moving. Newton relied on his immense athleticism at times to escape the New Orleans blitz schemes, and at times he succumbed to the pressure, not being able to decipher it at this stage of his development. As the game progressed, Newton began to settle down and dropped it off to his check down receivers when pressure came. Newton threw his first touchdown pass of the day to Steve Smith on a play that will be replayed for many months. As the pocket began to collapse on Newton, he threw a high, hopeful pass to Smith who, despite his size, sprung high into the air, secured it and ran it in for the score. It was an electrifying play by both he and Newton. Newton's second scoring pass came late in the game when, after leading a tremendous drive, he hit Greg Olsen on third down as he ran a quick hitch route at the goal line. The pass was delivered on time and accurately with good velocity. Newton also got the goal line carries and despite good penetration from the Saints defense, he squeezed into the end zone to cap off his day. A loss will hurt for this team, but Newton's star continues to shine brightly.
2011 Week 6 vs ATL (21 / 35 / 237 / 0 / 3 pass, 6 / 50 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton had a solid game overall in the hostile Georgia Dome as he returned home for the first time in his pro career. In what has become a weekly occurrence, Newton routinely escaped from pressure and at one point made a ridiculous play when he looked to be sacked, only to emerge and gain six yards on the ground. The offensive line gave Newton good time to survey the field and the rookie stayed patient and scanned the field well, finding his receivers with ease. Newton was unlucky to have a pass picked off at the end of the first half. A pass to the end zone intended for Steve Smith was tipped in the intermediate zone by the safety. The pass deflected high into the air and was intercepted in the end zone. Newton ran in for a terrific score in the third quarter, outrunning defensive backs to the edge and showing good balance initially as he was almost tripped. Newton was picked off again as the Panthers were driving to attempt to tie the game, this time by a DT as he tried to loft a screen pass to Stewart. It was an excellent hands play by the defender, but Newton needed to get more height on the pass. Newton threw a final pick in the final seconds of the game as he was trying to force a pass to the end zone. Newton played his heart out; do not be put off by his interceptions. This was one of his rare "down days" this season.
2011 Week 7 vs WAS (18 / 23 / 256 / 1 / 0 pass, 10 / 59 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton, in only his seventh career game, has played some excellent football. This game may have been the most impressive performance of his career thus far. Newton's first half was largely unspectacular save a phenomenal 25-yard scramble on third down. On the play Newton, finding nobody open downfield, broke four tackles and made some sick cuts to get his team out of a hole on third and long. Newton was sacked a couple of times as the right side of the offensive line let him down. The second half was a different story for Newton, who excelled in every phase of the quarterback position. Newton completed a beautiful 37-yard pass to Brandon LaFell down the sideline, dropping it right in the bucket. In the red zone, Newton finished the drive on an option play, faking the inside give to Stewart, then taking it outside himself almost untouched for the 16-yard score. Newton continued the positive momentum, firing some stunning passes to Steve Smith. The most impressive was a deep pass to Smith which ended up at the 1-yard line. Newton's ball placement - high and to the outside - meant the CB in coverage could not reach it and the safety coming over the top could not get across in time. Newton continued to complete an array of spectacular throws and topped off his day with a touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell in the red zone on an out route. Newton registered his second win of his rookie year and another highly impressive showing.
2011 Week 8 vs MIN (22 / 35 / 290 / 3 / 0 pass, 6 / 53 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton had a poor start to the game due to a protection breakdown. Newton was sacked and the ball was stripped, meaning it was an uphill battle from there. Newton recovered well, taking the short passes and being methodical. Newton hit some very accurate downfield passes, including a 26-yarder to Steve Smith that appeared to be a touchdown but was ruled down at the one. Newton put the pass on Smith's back shoulder as he saw the cornerback ahead of Smith with inside technique. Newton and the Panthers used the read option to good effect; Newton sprinted down the sideline for 24 yards on one such play. Newton is developing nicely as an NFL quarterback but his second half performance was static as the offense stalled on third down a few times. Newton had a career-high three touchdown passes on the day. The first was a nice high pass delivered to Jeremy Shockey in the red zone. The second was a pass down the seam to Greg Olsen, who got a very good release off the line to leave him wide open for a 39 yard score. Newton's final touchdown pass was the most impressive as he fired a laser to Steve Smith on a slant route against an all-out blitz. Newton stood in the pocket without fear and led Smith with the throw. Overall, Newton's performance was very solid.
2011 Week 10 vs TEN (23 / 40 / 212 / 0 / 1 pass, 7 / 55 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton did not have his best day under centre for the Panthers, but he did not play too badly overall. The Panthers struggled offensively mainly due to the solid play of the Titans secondary, who blanketed the receivers. Newton was forced to escape the pocket and run at times and did not look comfortable. The Titans pass rush was aggressive and got to Newton five times, but hit him several times as well. When he had time, Newton fired some laser passes to his receivers, but that happened far too infrequently. The Panthers were poor on third down as well, so they were unable to keep drives going. Newton's lone interception was an unfortunate tipped pass intended for Naanee which landed fortuitously in the hands of a Titans CB. Consider this the basement for Newton this season; this offense will get back on track.
2011 Week 11 vs DET (22 / 38 / 280 / 1 / 4 pass, 7 / 37 / 2 rush)
Cam Newton continues to be an elite option as a fantasy quarterback, but has been showing some rookie mistakes as of late. Newton floated some passes too high in this game, letting them fly over the heads of the intended receivers. However, that was due in large part to the Lions front four pressure. Newton threw an early interception as a result of said pressure, getting his pass tipped. It fell fortuitously into a Lions' DB's hands. Newton was very crisp executing his play fakes and screens and also manipulated the defense with his eyes very effectively at times. Newton responded with a strike to Steve Smith for a touchdown in the red zone, delivering a rocket pass to Smith. Newton scored two rushing touchdowns in this game, one of the many reasons his value is as high as a fantasy QB. On one of the runs, Newton executed a great cutback and outran defenders to the goal line. The other was a QB sneak as he followed Ryan Kalil into the end zone. Newton threw three more interceptions in the game, not all of which were his fault. Interior pressure from Suh forced Newton to get the ball out of his hands quickly on one pick. He could have taken the sack on the play to avoid the pick. A late tipped pass ended being intercepted in the two minute drill at the end of the game on a potential game-tying drive. Then, with Detroit's defense playing pass all the way, Newton tried to force a pass into coverage and had it intercepted with less than a minute to play. Newton did a good job to hang in against pressure and played a solid game overall but has more developing to do before he is the finished product.
2011 Week 12 vs IND (20 / 27 / 208 / 0 / 0 pass, 9 / 53 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton, despite some early inaccurate passes to Steve Smith which flew high, settled down quickly. Newton routinely zipped passes into tight coverage, hitting his receivers between the numbers. Newton was his usual threat as a runner, turning some plays that looked doomed into a nice gain. Newton played more of a caretaker role in this game as the Panthers could rely on their ground game to control the football. When called upon, Newton delivered however. Newton rushed for a touchdown in the red zone to register the first Panthers' TD of the day, following a Greg Olsen block for a walk-in score. Newton continues to progress as a passer and there is no reason why he will not be a top three - if not the top - quarterback for the rest of the season.
2011 Week 13 vs TB (12 / 21 / 204 / 1 / 0 pass, 14 / 54 / 3 rush)
Cam Newton has had an incredible rookie season littered with great moments and has been a no-brainer starter at QB for fantasy teams, but this may have been his most outstanding performance to date. Newton and the Panthers offense clicked immediately in this game with some classic zone read runs from Stewart and Williams off Newton's well-executed fakes. Newton was in complete control of the offense, stepping up in the pocket and delivering strikes to his receivers on ropes. He delivered catchable footballs and used his legs to very good effect as usual. Newton expanded his already varied plethora of talents as he caught a 27-yard pass from Legedu Naanee on a throwback. Newton completed some excellent passes as well, including a great touchdown pass to Legedu Naanee on a post route in the end zone. Newton had to place it perfectly in stride to ensure the pass would not be intercepted. Newton broke the all-time rushing touchdown mark for quarterbacks in a season as he ran to pay dirt three times for scores. The Panthers normally go to Newton on the goal line because he is so effective at running the football. The first of his scores was a Superman-like dive over the top. Newton is playing with great poise and composure and is leading this team to wins. The Panthers offense will continue to produce, so start Newton without hesitation over almost any other option.
2011 Week 14 vs ATL (19 / 39 / 276 / 2 / 2 pass, 7 / 36 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton had a very solid first half in this game, completing passes on time to his receivers and showing good pocket presence. However, the second half brought with it a change of fortunes for Newton and the Panthers offense. Not for the first time this season, the offense began to stall in the second half. Newton struggled with the pressure up the middle and often could not properly step into throws. His accuracy faltered on many occasions as well. Newton, to his credit, showed some life in the fourth quarter. Atlanta's defense played a lot of zone in the second half and made Newton stick throws into tighter windows. Newton had a couple of nice touchdown passes. The first was a creative play by OC Rob Chudzinski as Newton faked the QB draw and then lobbed a jump pass to Jeremy Shockey at the back of the end zone. The second was a screen pass to another tight end, this time Greg Olsen taking it for 44 yards. Newton's fake screen to the back on the play allowed Olsen to break free on the play side. A pair of costly interceptions in the second half changed the course of the game. One of the picks - an improvisational flip to Stewart - was ill-advised and a trademark rookie mistake. His second pick was a pass forced down the middle which was intercepted by the roaming FS. Newton's fantasy owners will still be pleased with his effort, but after a couple of upward trending weeks for Newton without turnovers, rookie mistakes are beginning to creep back in.
2011 Week 15 vs HOU (13 / 23 / 149 / 2 / 0 pass, 7 / 55 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton put on a decent display on the road in a rocking Reliant Stadium, keeping the offense moving with some good throws and good runs. At times, Newton threw passes a little high and out of the reach of the intended receiver, a problem he will have to remedy during the offseason. Newton completed a couple of throws into tight coverage, like a pass over the outstretched fingertips of a defender to Greg Olsen. Newton was asked to run the football late in the game and delivered with some key first downs. Newton tossed a touchdown pass on a 9-route to Steve Smith early, placing the football perfectly for him to run underneath it. Newton's second touchdown came in the red zone on a check down to Jeremy Shockey. The tight end did the rest, breaking two tackles for a score. Although the third quarter was typically poor for the Panthers offense, the fourth quarter represented a step forward for Newton, who played with calm and led his troops well. Producing against the number one defense in football is very impressive.
2011 Week 16 vs TB (12 / 17 / 171 / 3 / 0 pass, 6 / 65 / 1 rush)
Cam Newton singlehandedly led a lot of fantasy owners to a championship this season with his consistent point bonanzas. Newton played in control and with a great deal of poise against the Buccaneers and in the process broke Peyton Manning's rookie passing yardage record. Newton did not try to force the football into tight windows. Instead he opted for safe, short passes when they presented themselves. Newton also took shots down the field, most notably on the franchise-record 90 yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell. Newton lofted the football high down the seam for LaFell to attack in the air. Newton added a pair of touchdown passes later as the Panthers offense began to click into overdrive - one to Jonathan Stewart on a flair pattern in the red zone and one to Jeremy Shockey after a turnover by the Buccaneers. His most electrifying play was his touchdown run off the read option, a concept the Panthers should continue to utilise. Newton read the backside DE and saw he was crashing down the line to take Stewart, Newton pulled the football and ran it himself. He made a beautiful juke move to get free and then sprinted to pay dirt. Newton still has some work to do on fundamentals, but in a season where he didn't even benefit from a full offseason due to the lockout, his performance has been nothing short of breathtaking.
2011 Week 17 vs NO (15 / 25 / 158 / 1 / 1 pass, 6 / 32 / 0 rush)
Cam Newton started the game well, but seemed to fade as it wore on. With the Panthers trailing big, the Saints sent blitz after blitz, making Newton uneasy. Newton's lone touchdown pass of the game - a fade pass to Steve Smith - was perfectly floated to the back corner of the end zone. The pass showed the kind of progress made by Newton this season in a nutshell. Newton was too eager to make a play at times and took a few sacks for his troubles; it is an aspect of his game he will have to hone in the offseason. Newton threw an ill-advised jump pass in the red zone which resulted in an interception. The Saints did not bite on the run action and subsequently double covered the intended receiver Steve Smith. Newton's pocket presence throughout was impressive, especially when the Saints sent more than 4 pass rushers. His rookie season is one of the greatest we will ever see, and fantasy owners should expect similar results for many years to come.