The 11th-year quarterback, now in his 10th season with Carolina, has been forced to play behind abysmal fronts for basically the entirety of that decade. It showed, once again, on Sunday.
Newton finished the game having completed just 18 of his 39 throws for 156 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Save for the pick, and maybe a few mistimed balls, he was solid in the passing game all things considered.
His seven deflected passes and a lousy average of 4.0 yards per attempts had to do, in large part, with another weak outing from his line. Newton—who, remarkably enough, was sacked just four times—faced constant pressure and airtight pockets for much of the afternoon.
That led to a lack of shots downfield, as routes had very few chances of even developing with such limited time. Perhaps it’s fair to some extent to question what’s left his arm strength, but how would we even know if he has no chance to rip it off anyway?
Death, taxes and Cam Newton getting a raw deal because his offensive line is terrible.
Even in that 11th campaign with the considerable amount of wear and tear he’s picked up, Newton remains one of the league’s most dangerous runners.
Cam closed up the outing with a team-high 71 yards and a score on 15 attempts. His touchdown in the second quarter, which cut the deficit to 14-8, was his fifth in as many games. That five-game streak tied him with Arizona’s Kyler Murray for the longest such run by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era.
That was also his 75th career end zone visit on the ground, pushing him into another tie—this time with Clinton Portis—for the 26th spot on the all-time list.
Carolina has used their 2020 second-rounder sparingly over his first two professional campaigns. Between this year and last, Gross-Matos has seen the field for at least 50 percent of the defense’s snaps in just six games. (Those all, by the way, came from his rookie season.)
Today, with defensive tackle Derrick Brown on the shelf, Gross-Matos responded to the added playing time. He racked up five tackles—with one going for a loss—and a game-high 2.5 sacks. Those 2.5 sacks, funnily enough, matched his entire total in the category from 2020.
Above all, the 6-foot-5, 265-pounder has been a reliable presence against the run in the NFL. But perhaps that all-around development the organization has been looking for in the raw 23-year-old is starting to show.
What were you really expecting out of this one?
Carolina came into the frigid conditions of Orchard Park, N.Y.—on a miserable three-game losing streak, no less—to face a preseason Super Bowl favorite grasping on to their playoff lives. The loss was going down, folks.
At least, though, the defeat wasn’t completely embarrassing. The Panthers stuck in for the majority of this matchup—despite the turmoil they’re currently facing. They didn’t allow quarterback Josh Allen to go off (210 passing yards), they held it down against the run (119 yards) and the offense even appeared functional at times against the league’s No. 1 defense.
Sometimes (or most of the time), you just simply get bested by a better team. Sometimes you get bested on a laser throw by a good passer. And sometimes you get bested by a wiser coaching staff.
While that seems simple to say, that’s really what we saw on Sunday.