CHARLOTTE – Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is put under the microscope more often than a newly discovered fossil, but his problems Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks were clear to even the untrained eye.
"Call it what you want to call it," Newton said. "Cam Newton didn't play good football today."
Even without an interception, Newton recorded the fourth-lowest quarterback rating of his 21-game career. In his three lower-rated efforts, he totaled 10 interceptions.
Newton had completed more than 50 percent of his passes in each of his first 20 games. Sunday, he completed 41.4 percent (12-of-29).
"Our offense is designed to throw the football downfield, but it's on me as the quarterback to manage this football game," Newton said. "Even though the shots weren't there downfield, I have to be accurate in throwing the ball underneath and throwing the ball to the checkdowns, and that didn't happen.
"To a degree I'm kind of embarrassed, but things are going to get better."
Every athlete has days like the one Newton endured Sunday, an off-day helped along by the opposition. The Seahawks entered the game ranked second in the NFL in total defense and played even better than that, keeping the Panthers off-balance with straight-up stinginess.
"We knew what they were doing, and that's probably the funny thing - when you know what guys are doing and you still can't execute," Newton said. "They are just good at what they do - let's call a cat a cat and a dog a dog. They're a great defense.
"We knew what we were getting into before this game even started. We knew we had to win the one-on-ones, whether you were running routes, throwing, blocking or just out in space. I did not win a lot of one-on-ones today."
Even with Newton off-target, Carolina's defense kept the Panthers on-target to pull out a victory if the offense could get its act together.
That appeared to transpire in the fourth quarter, when Newton directed the offense on a nearly seven-minute drive in a 16-10 game. He completed six straight passes for 79 yards at the start of the march after hitting on 6-of-21 for 62 yards to that point.
"Just seeing people catch the ball got me in a rhythm," Newton said. "That is the name of the game. Just throw the ball to your guys and play pitch and catch.
"I was inaccurate today on a lot of possessions, more than I wanted to be, but that last drive man, I think we had unbelievable focus on offense and we just had to get the job done."
In the bitter end, however, Newton's lack of accuracy resurfaced. On fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, his pass fell several feet short of tight end Ben Hartsock in the end zone.
With that, Newton's chance to redeem himself after a tough day went by the wayside.
He'll have plenty of chances for redemption in the weeks to come.
"The Bible says that God won't put more on a person than a person can bear, so I'm going to learn from this," Newton said. "I'm humbled by this, and I'm going to come back and get better.
"I haven't been playing good football, so I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to try and get better with each and every opportunity I'm given. This bye week is going to be an excellent opportunity for me to hone in, go back to fundamentals -my technique in throwing the football, the reads in the offense - and come back and get prepared for the next opponent."