LANDOVER, Md. - Cam Newton did everything he could to bring his team all the way out of a deep hole.
Well, almost everything.
"I had some throws that I wish I had back on that last drive," Newton said after a 23-17 loss to the Redskins in which the Panthers fell 16 yards short of matching the biggest comeback in franchise history. "But that's the game of football. It's a cliché that you live to fight another day, and we'll have another day come next week."
Newton and the Panthers faced such an uphill climb after three of their first five opportunities with the ball actually created opportunities for Washington. Newton was responsible for one of the three turnovers, though his third-and-17 interception essentially acted as a punt.
The Redskins scored 10 points after the other two turnovers to key a 17-0 lead. Those two fell at the feet of rookie receiver DJ Moore, who fumbled an early punt fighting for extra yardage on the return. Then, with Carolina already in a 14-0 hole, he fumbled after a catch on a promising drive.
"He'll learn from it. He's young," Newton said. "At the end of the day, we've all got to be better – not just him. Everybody has to be better."
Newton hates losing, and he no doubt hated former teammate Josh Norman having license to trash-talk after winning the game and being the one to pick off Newton.
"They won, so there isn't any need for me to talk. I don't want to have a Twitter beef," Newton said, referencing the social media battle last week between Norman and Saints receiver Michael Thomas.
What words Newton did have to say after Sunday's loss were measured and didn't reveal nearly the depth of disappointment that he's worn all over his face and his sleeve throughout his career.
"Obviously this is a tough pill to swallow when you put so much energy, time and effort into something and you don't get the turn-out that you want," Newton said. "But at the end of the day, nobody is going to feel sorry for you. We don't expect anybody to feel sorry for us. We've just got to get ready for our next opponent."
Newton said his "sobbing days" are over.
That's not a bad thing.
Long snapper J.J. Jansen is one of the few players that has been on the Panthers roster for the entirety of Newton's career. Earlier in the season before the Panthers played the Bengals, Jansen reminisced about Newton as a rookie in 2011 and how devastated he was after a preseason loss to Cincinnati in his first pro start.
"That was a thing for a couple of years – he took every loss really hard," Jansen said. "Cam still takes losing hard, but I think he experienced what every really good college player has experienced: When you're a top player on a good college team or high school team, one loss is really devastating because it usually means you're done as far as a championship. But in the NFL, it's really a war of attrition, a question of whether you can get in the playoffs.
"That's an evolution any young player has to deal with. You work too hard to be OK with losing, but the reality is that once the loss happens, you have to wipe it and learn from it because now the next week becomes more important. If it throws you in a funk, now you're really hurting yourself."
Newton's competitive drive has never seemed to be a negative in the course of a given game. Sunday was the latest example: Nothing was going right with the Panthers' uncharacteristic turnovers, and Newton did nothing but work to right the ship. He was among the primary reasons the Panthers nearly came all the way back.
At times in the past, he got negative press for figuratively sobbing at post-game press conferences after losses, but for the most part losses have only served to motivate him more to win the next week. Did the "Mr. Mopeyhead" thing that head coach Ron Rivera jokingly called it when Newton was a rookie ever take away from the quarterback's pregame preparation? It's hard to say, but if it ever did, it doesn't matter now.
What matters now? Next Sunday's game at the Eagles.
"I'm excited about what the future holds," Newton said. "Our job is to win football games, and that's what we plan to do moving forward."