CHARLOTTE — Cam Newton has never been particularly good at losing.
Sunday night, he admitted he was holding back the feelings, which were clearly just beneath the surface.
Newton had a pair of turnovers in the Panthers' 29-21 loss to the Falcons at Bank of America Stadium, turnovers which were poorly timed and costly.
"You grow to bottle your emotions better," the 32-year-old quarterback said afterward. "I could move some furniture right now if you'd allow me to. But that's not going to do anything to anybody but make the story even more of a distraction to prepare for next week.
"I'm just so disappointed in myself. I hold myself to a high standard. And a lot of guys around this team hold me to a high standard too. To not perform, to jeopardize the game the way I did today was inexcusable."
But Newton's were momentum-killers, since they brought quick swings in scoring, after the Panthers had driven into Falcons' territory.
On the first, he admitted he didn't see linebacker Mykal Walker, who intercepted Newton's second-quarter pass intended for running back Ameer Abdullah and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown.
For the second, Newton got caught trying to do too much.
On second-and-3 from the Falcons' 47-yard line late in the third quarter, center Pat Elflein appeared to step on Newton's foot as he came away from the exchange. Then, as he fell, he tried to pitch the ball to Chuba Hubbard, but it ended up in the hands of defensive end Grady Jarrett instead. The Falcons proceeded to go on a 10-play touchdown drive, to make it a two-score game early in the fourth quarter.
"I tried to hand it off, should have just ate it, and yeah, once again, it comes down to protecting the football," Newton said. "That's day one, just winning football. Rec ball, high school, college and professional. Protect the football. And I didn't do a good job of that today.
"I think that's what's so frustrating. I hold myself to a high standard to do those things, and when it doesn't happen, it's just inexcusable."
Newton wasn't the only one making inexcusable mistakes. Walker came in late in the second quarter, ostensibly because he was more familiar with the team's hurry-up package.
Instead, he floated a deep interception inside the two-minute warning. The Falcons didn't turn that one into points, but it was consistent with the theme of the day.
"I'll start off with the interception, it's bad," Walker said. "Bad football on my end. Got confused, got mixed up with the disguise and everything. Just a bad play on my end, can't do that."
Rhule talked about the slim margin of error the Panthers have at the moment, as well as the stats that show teams with a turnover margin like they had seldom succeed. The Panthers are not in a position to withstand those mistakes at the moment.
Especially when both quarterbacks make them.
"I can only speak for myself," Newton said. "I'm so disappointed with where we were. We had such a great momentum with those drives, and it was drive-killers. It's game-killers in essence."
View photos from the Panthers-Falcons divisional matchup in Week 14 at Bank of America Stadium.