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Strickly Panthers: Newton bears burden


CHARLOTTE - In his continued effort to straighten out the learning curve as quickly as possible, rookie quarterback Cam Newton has tried to soak up every nugget of knowledge he can glean from the Panthers coaching staff.

Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, though, a universal truth on all levels of football escaped Newton – right along with a potential victory.

"Going into the game, Coach asked us as quarterbacks what it was going to take to win," Newton said. "I don't think I followed the No. 1 rule: protect the football."

Newton posted his second record-setting performance in as many weeks, but he also tossed three interceptions over the span of five series to help the Packers slowly stretch their lead in a 30-23 triumph over the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.

Perhaps even bigger than Newton's turnovers, however, was the offense's inability to go from the red zone to the end zone. While Newton's interceptions resulted in six points for the Packers, they easily could have been erased by better execution close to the goal line.

In between Newton opening the game with a beautiful 85-yard drive capped by a touchdown pass and closing the game with a virtually meaningless touchdown run, the Panthers totaled three field goals on four drives that advanced within 3 yards of the end zone.

The stumbles were a team effort just like the successes, but Newton took the blame for the stumbles and passed on taking credit for the successes.

"You know, I'm not here to point the finger, and I'm not here to bash myself, but that is just unacceptable," Newton said. "It's my job as a quarterback to make everything right.

"It was just decision making - that's it, simple and plain. We have to get that right. Well, I have to get that right."

In the loss, Newton set more records one week after posting the most passing yards for a first-time starter in NFL history. After throwing for 422 yards in the opener, he victimized the Packers for 432, shattering the NFL record for the most passing yards in a quarterback's first two career starts. Kevin Kolb throw for 718 yards in his first two starts with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007; Newton has thrown for 854 yards in his first two starts.


Amazingly, Newton doesn't lead the NFL in passing yardage. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has thrown for 940 yards through two games, and he and Newton became the sixth and seventh quarterbacks in NFL history Sunday to pass for more than 400 yards in back-to-back games.

"He's doing a great job," tight end Jeremy Shockey said. "And I know he wants to win more than anybody in this locker room. He's a very competitive person."

Newton again wore his disappointment on his sleeve, though this time he did allow himself to acknowledge some of the encouraging things he's been able to do at the outset of his pro career - kind of.

"There are a lot of positives that we can take into next week and get some momentum," Newton said. "It's just the small things that make us different than the Green Bay Packers. When those guys know what they have to do, they do it. You don't see a lot of penalties. You don't see a lot of interceptions. You don't see a lot of mistakes.

"And that is what we have to learn as a team, starting with myself."

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