Cam Newton breathes fresh life into Carolina Panthers but fails to finish close game
- Carolina Panthers faced Washington Football Team on Sunday
- The Panthers (5-6) had two chances to drive the length of the field
- Cam Newton completed 21 of 27 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns
But the 32-year-old QB didn’t produce when his team needed him most Sunday.
The Panthers (5-6) had two chances to drive the length of the field and beat Washington in the final 4:13. Both possessions ended in turnovers on downs rather than a heroic finish as Carolina lost 27-21. The costly defeat dropped Carolina from the third NFC wild card entering the weekend to tied for the 10th-best record in the NFC.
“You can’t have the ball twice at the end of the game and not go down and score in the National Football League,” Rhule said on Monday. “We have to convert more third downs. Is that Cam? No, it’s everybody."
Carolina was 2 of 9 on third downs and 1 of 3 on fourth downs.
Rhule made it pretty clear that Newton will need to be better moving forward.
"I don’t like putting anything on one guy. When you are the quarterback there is a lot of responsibility on you,” Rhule said. "Cam did a lot of good things. He ran the ball and executed the offense and he’s learned a lot quickly. But all of these games are going to come down the last four minutes where we have to score a field goal and a touchdown. I put that on all of us, but at the end of the day as a quarterback we’ve got to get that done. I’m sure he would be the first to say that. We’ve got to win at the end of the game.”
Rhule said after Sunday's game that Newton lacked a familiarity with running the two-minute offense because he had arrived 10 days earlier. But he stuck with Newton rather than turning to backup P.J. Walker because Newton had the hot hand earlier in the game in leading three touchdown drives.
The Panthers were unable to win close games last season, one of the reasons they jettisoned quarterback Teddy Bridgewater following a 5-11 record.
Newton's stat line was solid as he completed 21 of 27 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns, ran 10 times for 46 yards, including a 24-yard score he punctuated by celebrating at the team's midfield logo by doing his Superman impersonation.
But on the final two drives, Newton was 7 of 9 for just 45 yards and managed one first down. It didn't help that right tackle Taylor Moton put the team behind the chains with a holding penalty on the first drive, negating an 8-yard run by Christian McCaffrey.
The first drive ended when Newton completed a 2-yard pass to McCaffrey on fourth-and-3, the other when the 2015 league MVP took a sack on fourth-and-3 when he had a chance to get the ball to D.J. Moore but hesitated and was engulfed by two linemen.