|National Football League|
Cam Newton ready to move on from career-worst passer rating
By GEORGE HENRY
ATLANTA (AP) Cam Newton says he has already moved on from one of the worst starts of his career.
The Panthers quarterback put up some bad numbers in Carolina's 22-10 loss Sunday to the Atlanta Falcons, but the 2015 NFL MVP isn't too concerned. The playoffs are about to begin, and Newton sees no reason why the Panthers can't make a run.
"Right now, we need to turn the page extremely fast, and I'm going to do that and focus on the next opponent," Newton said, looking forward to next week's wild-card game at New Orleans.
Dissecting his performance against the Falcons won't be much fun. Newton had a 31.5 passer rating, the lowest of a seven-year, 109-game career. He began the afternoon missing on his first nine attempts and threw three interceptions in the second half. His 41.2 completion percentage was the fourth-worst of his career.
But as badly as the day started, Newton appeared to have taken the game's momentum late in the second quarter as he engineered a 16-play, 78-yard drive that lasted over eight minutes. He converted third downs with a 16-yard scramble, a 10-yard pass and a spectacular 27-yard pass that wiped out an 11-yard sack on the previous play.
After connecting with Devin Funchess for a 4-yard touchdown, Newton was confident knowing that Carolina would get the ball to begin the third quarter.
Instead, the Panthers went three-and-out to begin the second half and misfired the rest of the way.
"We had too many blunders," Newton said. "That's not us. Fumbles in the backfield, miscommunication in the pass game, just things that are easily corrected. That's the optimistic approach to this whole thing."
Newton and tight end Greg Olsen both tried to move on from a forgettable third-down incompletion early in the fourth quarter with the Falcons leading by nine.
Newton had overcome his own fumble on the second play of the drive to connect with Funchess for a 44-yard gain. Three snaps later, Olsen ran a route to the right side, but didn't cut back toward the sideline. Newton's pass bounced out of bounds.
Olsen, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and Newton's teammate for seven years, said Newton didn't see a hand signal he gave before the snap.
"We didn't play well enough to win," Olsen said. "We can lie to ourselves, but we just didn't play well enough offensively to win."
Olsen and Newton appeared to avoid each other on the sideline for the rest of the game.
"We cannot rush to conclusions," Newton said. "We can't panic. Sometimes it's just good to step back and analyze the situation and even breathe throughout the mayhem of what's going on.
"I didn't think we did a good job today. There were a lot of guys pressing, including myself at times, and just knowing that everything is A-OK at the end of the day. When we panic, that's when our production goes down. We just have to stay smooth sailing and we'll learn from this."
Newton was lacking a strong supporting cast. He's had a revolving door with his starting receivers, and the offense was absent running back Jonathan Stewart, who was held out with a tight back.
"The accuracy is something needs to be in place as well," he said. "I just can't overlook myself. There were some errant throws that I've got to be better at and I will be better at."
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Updated December 31, 2017