Had Cam Newton not led his Carolina Panthers on a game-winning drive Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, what he did last week in igniting a last-second victory over New England would have been nullified to some extent. But Newton repeated himself, and the Panthers won their seventh straight game, 20-16, on Newton’s short touchdown pass to Greg Olson with 43 seconds to play.
And so, Newton continues to build his reputation as an elite quarterback. Backing up the late-game win over the Patriots on Monday Night Football with another heroic effort in the clutch shows his continued development.
The Panthers (8-3) overcame a 16-3 first-half deficit by giving Newton the freedom to use his diverse skills after limiting him in the pocket much of the ugly first half.
“It may not be pretty,” Newton said, “but at the end of the game we get that three-letter word, and that’s gorgeous.”
Down by 3 with just one timeout, their winning drive began at their own 20 with 4:13 left. On fourth down early in the drive, Carolina went for it instead of punting, and Newton rifled a pass to Steve Smith for a 19-yard gain and a first down.
“That’s when the tide shifted in our favor,” Newton said.
And the Panthers rode the tide to the game-winning score. Coupled with the drive to knock off the Patriots and his overall solid play all season, Newton used Sunday to elevate his status among the league’s top quarterbacks. So much talk the last year has been about Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Colin Kapaernick. Meanwhile, Newton has played better than them all, and his attitude certainly seems to be on point with continuing his success.
“It’s about the next game,” he said.