Cam Newton Gets Fourth Crack at His Nemesis
The Seahawks have gotten the best of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton since 2012, a past he'd like to forget.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton had no interest in going down memory lane Wednesday. Considering how he has played against the Seahawks in his career, it was tough to blame him.
Carolina dropped all three of its meetings with Seattle in Charlotte the last three seasons, and while those losses were only by a combined 13 points, they were three of the worst games of Newton's career.
The fourth-year quarterback gets another shot at his nemesis Saturday, but the challenge gets even tougher with a Divisional Playoff game in Seattle.
In these days leading up to the game, you could assume Newton may be dwelling on what has gone wrong previously. But you know what they say about those who assume.
"I don’t mean to be blunt, but the last three years don’t matter to me. They were a different team, and we were a different team six games ago," Newton said.
"They may run the same scheme, they may have some different clues that we can go off of, but this game Saturday is not going to be based on what’s happened in the past. It’s going to be about the team who seizes the moment and makes the most of each and every opportunity they get."
Newton is right. Both teams are different now than they were when they first met in Week 8, and in years past. But it is impossible to ignore decreased numbers when looking at his history with Seattle.
A 59.5 percent career passer, Newton has completed 54 percent of his throws against the Seahawks. In three games, he has averaged 145.7 passing yards, with just one touchdown pass. That was in 2013 to former receiver Steve Smith, and it was the only touchdown Newton's offense has scored in 28 drives against Seattle.
When asked what his team has done to slow Newton down, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll did not share any secrets.
"We’ve just been scrambling around, holding onto to our tails making sure we can get him," Carroll said on a conference call with Carolina media. "I don’t feel like we’ve done anything special. We’ve just tried to play football and hold on, and we’ve been able to get that done.”
While they were 'holding onto their tails,' the Seahawks piled up eight sacks and at least 11 more hits on Newton. They also limited his running ability, holding him to 102 yards on 24 carries.
In this year's regular-season matchup, with a makeshift offensive line in front of him, and without injured backs DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert, Newton found himself trying to do too much. The stress manifested itself early in the third quarter when, after driving the Panthers into Seattle territory, Newton flung an interception to the Seahawks while he was being tackled after a scramble.
"He's so competitive, and he wants to make things happen, I think exercising the right type of patience would be good for him," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.
"You have got to make sure that you're not trying to force things. You've got to take what's out there, and I think that's some of the things that he's learning. If he plays the way he has in some of these games during this five-game stretch, there's some real good possibilities for us."
Since Week 14, Newton has thrown seven touchdown passes and just two interceptions. Most importantly, his weapons are healthier, and the line is playing much better, allowing him to be sacked just three times in his last four games.
None of that guarantees Newton will finally get over his Seahawks hump Saturday, but it does give him a fair shot.
"I can’t make it personal because this game is not about that," Newton said. "It’s not about me. It’s bigger than me. It’s about going into a hostile environment and not only proving to people, but proving to ourselves that we belong here."