CHARLOTTE - Contrary to the views of some, Cam Newton actually doesn't want this to be about him.
But with sincere apologies, on a day like this, at least some of it has to be about Cam.
Newton had never thrown four touchdown passes in an NFL game before Sunday, and no one in Panthers history had thrown four touchdown passes in a half.
Newton did both, then he added a second-half touchdown toss for good measure as Carolina walloped Washington 44-16 to improve to 10-0 on the season.
That last number is the only one Newton cares to talk about – and not even that one for long.
"The most important number right now is the win column," Newton said. "It feels great. Usually we have 24 hours to celebrate, but we have a short week and we have to get ready for Dallas. But overall it was a great team win."
Newton was at his happiest Sunday when fans behind the Panthers' bench began chanting "10-0!" Newton was quick to acknowledge them with his winning smile – one he's had ample opportunity to flash throughout this special season.
"The thing he cares about – the thing we all care about – is winning," center Ryan Kalil said. "I think it's fun to see somebody being themselves, keeping their personality but still keeping their focus and doing the things that they have to do."
For the second consecutive game, Newton was as sharp as he's ever been throwing the ball. He completed a career-best 11 consecutive passes out of the gates a week ago at Tennessee, and Sunday he hit five different receivers for touchdowns.
"That's just a tribute to believing in coaching," Newton said. "We had a great week of practice this week that really attacked the things they were going to show us.
"Coach always says, 'Trust your eyes out there,' and I did. Guys were out there making plays – Ted, FunFun, Greg and those guys make my job a lot easier."
After running backs Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert accounted for Newton's first two touchdowns on well-designed plays that first featured the backs in play action, wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. made the next play when Newton scrambled to buy time and squeezed one to Ginn low to the ground in the middle of the end zone.
It seemed fitting that tight end Greg Olsen came up with the last one of the first half – the one that gave Newton four in a game for the first time and gave the Panthers four in a half for the first time ever.
"Four touchdowns in the first half? I think that is pretty good," said Olsen, who earlier in the game became Carolina's all-time leader among tight ends in receiving yards. "What more can you say? The guy is playing at a very elite level right now."
The only (attempted) knocks on Newton during his fabulous fifth season are that his completion percentage has been too low and that one dance move was too much. He's been consistently on the mark the last two weeks, and the teammate most attached to his hip says the dance craze has been off the mark.
"It's funny to me to see people get upset when he's celebrating and having a good time. He's consistent about it. He's the same guy," Kalil said. "He's just been doing a good job handling our success and also a good job handling some of the negative national narrative about him that I don't think it warranted.
"He's somebody who works incredibly hard during the week – is one of the first guys in, one of the last guys out. He cares what his teammates think about him. He wants to help his team win. Doesn't get in trouble off the field. Says all the right things with the guys. Does a lot of things you guys don't know about off the field – doesn't try to make a big scene about it.
"He does all the things you want a franchise quarterback to do."
View the top photos by team photographer Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez from Carolina's game against Washington.