After Carolina's Cam Newton threw for 151 yards in the first quarter against the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, we began to think that not only was Newton's 422-yard debut against the Arizona Cardinals not a fluke, but that he somehow tapped into the early stages of a quarterback Pantheon we had never seen before.
Certainly against the complex and varied Green Bay defensive schemes run by Dom Capers, the rookie would eventually slip up, right? Well, it didn't happen early on, but eventually, wily veteran cornerback Charles Woodson started to figure Newton out and make him pay.
The first Woodson pick came late in the first half:
The second Woodson theft came with 11:50 left in the third quarter:
And then, just for good measure, Woodson recovered a Steve Smith fumble with 9:30 left in the third quarter on a pass Newton managed to complete in Woodson's general area.
We knew that eventually Cam Newton was going to make rookie mistakes, and he certainly did in this 30-23 loss. That said, Newton did his best to keep his team competitive even with a total of three picks (safety Morgan Burnett got the other one) by throwing for one touchdown and running for another. The Panthers need to help Newton out a little bit more with a balanced rushing attack —they have the talent at running back to make it go with DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson.
On the upside, the Panthers are far more exciting from an offensive perspective than they were last year. Want proof? Remember that 151 yards Newton threw for in the first quarter alone? In six different Panthers games in 2010, the starting quarterback didn't throw for that many yards in the entire game.
It's a new era in Carolina — Cam Newton simply ran into a bit of a buzzsaw. But for the second week in a row, he did far better than a lot of people expected.