CHARLOTTE – On Monday, wide receiver Steve Smith spoke about the Panthers needing each individual to look in the mirror and evaluate their own performance.
"He's right," quarterback Cam Newton said.
On Wednesday, Newton told the media what he saw.
"For me, I feel I have to be more consistent," Newton said. "Whether it's the obvious (things) or just something like carrying out my fake or just putting the ball a little bit more out in front of the receiver.
"When I go back and look at the (Cardinals) game, even though it wasn't the best play in the world, I feel as though (offensive coordinator Mike) Shula has enough faith in me to know if the play is not there to throw it away. I didn't, and it showed."
Newton highlighted his second-quarter interception as an example, a play in which he targeted wide receiver Steve Smith deep down the right sideline on second-and-five from the Arizona 33-yard line.
"I was just trying to give my guy a chance," Newton said. "Steve Smith is a guy that you just give him a chance, and he makes plays happen. But the type of throw that I gave him – it just wasn't a good throw. I know that. Y'all saw it."
Cornerback Patrick Peterson located the underthrown ball and hauled it in at the 1-yard line for an easy interception.
"If that situation presents itself again," Newton said, "get the football out farther or throw the ball away.
"Make smart decisions, and in my position, throwaways are smart."
Those decisions are magnified in the second half, and Newton acknowledged he and the offense must perform better after halftime.
The Panthers have held halftime leads in all four games this season – 7-3 against Seattle, 7-3 against Buffalo, 17-0 against New York (the team's only victory) and 6-3 against Arizona.
Carolina failed to reach the end zone in the second half of all three defeats.
"I just have to hone in on my skills and say, 'Let me focus more in the second half and get the job done.' It's very vital," Newton said. "If we are going to make this next step, I have to step up my game in the second half."
So too will the offensive line, which will be without starting left guard Amini Silatolu for the rest of the season due to a knee injury.
Despite allowing seven sacks against the Cardinals, Newton reiterated the confidence he has in the group responsible for protecting him and shouldered blame for some of the sacks he's taken.
"I have full confidence in my offensive line. We're in it together," Newton said. "In a lot of those sacks, let's be quite frank, I could have been better. I could have stepped up in the pocket, I could have thrown the football away, I could have scrambled and made a play. So it's not just pointing those guys out.
"I think there are a lot of people playing with a chip on their shoulder," he added. "Our job is to make sure we're putting our team in the best situation to be 2-3."