Patriots QB Cam Newton finally lives up to his Superman persona
The Patriots were O-for comebacks this season.
Cam Newton had come up short, game after game, on the final drive and in some cases, the final play.
He was the anti-Tom Brady.
Newton couldn't get in from the one against Seattle. He couldn't complete a pass in the endzone against Denver. And he fumbled going in for the winning score against the Bills last week late in the fourth quarter.
But against the Jets, there was a change in the narrative. Newton finally delivered. He got the job done in the clutch.
Yes, Superman lives.
Down 10 points at the start of the fourth quarter, Newton put the cape on and brought the Patriots back to tie the game, and eventually set up the winning score in a 30-27 thriller over the Jets at the Meadowlands.
He authored four scoring drives in the second half, three coming in the fourth quarter to pull out the victory.
With help from Jakobi Meyers, Newton made sure the Patriots wouldn't suffer the embarrassment of losing to the Jets.
Newton was sick of losing, and sick of being a cause of all the defeats.
"(I was) getting tired of sucking. It's simple. As a competitor, you know what your standard is, taking pride in your work. That's what it comes down to," Newton said following the win. "You not being able to hold your head up because you're thinking too much, that's one thing. But at the same time, you're solely responsible for the performance you put up. I was extremely disappointed.
"This is not like, 'Oh I just did my job today,' " he went on. "That's what it's supposed to be each and every week. Efficient football."
He did not turn the ball over. He had no interceptions, and no fumbles.
He completed 27 of 35 passes for 274 yards. He ran for two scores.
He started the game hitting his first eleven passes. It was a conservative, and effective way to run the offense with the short, quick-hitters.
And when Newton had to put the ball up deep, or rely on more intermediate passes as dictated by the score, he really came to life, especially hitting Meyers, who caught 12 passes for 169 yards, including the clutch 20-yarder to set up the game-winning field goal.
Asked if he was more elated about winning, or not having the dreaded feeling of losing, Newton went with the latter.
Losing was getting old.
"There's a lot of people in that locker room that deserve more than what we've been showing," he said. "A lot of our fans have been let down, with lackluster performances of myself amongst other people, but I can only speak for myself and I will. But yet, this is a game we can build off of, and we will build off of it, and that's a good thing."
The offense was able to accomplish many things it hadn't in previous games. It scored in the first quarter for the first time all season, producing a touchdown after an 8-play, 75 yard opening drive with Newton taking it in from five yards out.
Newton also started the second half with another impressive drive, moving 78 yards in 13 plays. Rex Burkhead capped off that drive going in from a yard out.
So Newton & the offense produced good drives, sustained drives, and clutch drives. All of those were missing the previous four games.
"A game like this, the last couple games, it kind of builds character. We did a great job with situational football, trailing at halftime, with just being resilient, and battling back as an offense," said Newton. "Being able to still run the football, and keeping everything within the wheelhouse of this offense. For us to turn opportunities into points, is something we've been harping on, working on all year. For it to show off today, we just gotta keep building on it."
Newton has built a nice chemistry with Meyers, and Damiere Byrd, who had 5 catches for 65 yards. But Meyers has clearly been his go-to-guy of late.
"I'm extremely proud of Jakobi," Newton said. "He's the person that I've known the longest this whole ordeal. ... For him to be morphing into the player that he is today, it's just hard work paying off for him."
Another reason the game didn't end in defeat was how well Newton did gaining much-needed yards on quarterback sneaks, something Brady had been so effective at pulling off for years.
In all, Newton had six sneaks, five of which gained yards. Four of them either went for touchdowns or first downs. On the game-tying drive alone, he converted a fourth-and-one, and ultimately dove in from the one.
Newton credited the offensive line, center Dave Andrews and right guard Shaq Mason in particular.
"That play is always successful when your center or guards, Shaq Diesel or Smokin' Joe can get some type of surge," said Newton. "And for me being as big as I am, it's just a lunge forward."
Ultimately, Newton was just glad to stop the losing skid, and have something to build off.
It was good to come away from a game, and not have to answer for mistakes, or failed attempts at winning.
"I'm not going to lie, it felt good. But at the end of the day, we're in the position where this was a division game, a much-needed win, for multiple reasons not only for the division, but for our confidence. We just needed one, in our opinion . . . we just got to get healthy and pair it with a great week of practice, and we'll be alright."