Two plays, two touchdowns: Cam Newton is on fire in return to Panthers

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Over the last four weeks of the season, no defense had a better DVOA than that of the Arizona Cardinals. In Week 10, Arizona was playing the Carolina Panthers at home, and given the state of Carolina’s offense, one could expect this to be quite the beatdown.

It was a beatdown early on, but not the one anybody expected.

It didn’t take long for Cam Newton to have an effect on the Panthers’ offense in his return to the team he quarterbacked from 2011 through 2019. The 2015 NFL MVP and 2020 New England Patriot, signed by his former team this week after starting quarterback Sam Darnold was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, wasn’t going to start on short notice ahead of P.J. Walker. But that didn’t mean that head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady didn’t have plans for Newton against the Cardinal’s shaky run defense.

After Arizona quarterback Colt McCoy fumbled the ball on a sack with 13:41 left in the first quarter, and the Panthers recovered the ball at the Arizona 15-yard line. From there, Walker fumbled the ball himself, which he recovered, and then, after three run plays, Newton was sent in at quarterback. The result was a two-yard touchdown run.

It was a great return for Newton, and not a surprise given his 70 career rushing touchdowns, by far the most for any quarterback in NFL history.

But Cam wasn’t done! The Cardinals couldn’t convert a fourth-and-1 from their own 42-yard line, and they took over at the Arizona 41 when McCoy took a one-yard loss. The Panthers quickly moved the ball downfield on one of the NFL’s best defenses, and with 8:39 left in the first quarter, Newton once again replaced Walker and hit Robby Anderson for this two-yard passing touchdown.

It could be said that in the right situation, Cam Newton’s still got it.