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Newton Simply Knocked Off his Game

There is no doubt Cam Newton was not himself against the Saints. So where did it go wrong? Here's my theory.

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Streeter Lecka

Before I get to that I first have to say I find Rivera's answer a cop out:

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton shoulders blame for loss to Saints -NewsObserver.com

"I think because he wants to win in a very bad way," he said. "And you know how he gets. He puts it all on himself, and one thing that he's going to have to continue to learn and grow is that he's got to be willing to take a step back and put the ball in the other playmakers' hands."

Newton just had a terrible day throwing the ball. I don't call that 'pressing' I call that getting knocked off your game mentally and then being unable to get it back. It happened real early in the game.

On his third snap of the game Newton scrambled left and dove for a first down. While doing so he took a shot to the head by S Vinnie Sunseri. He was latter seen spitting blood on the sideline. I think that shot dazed him for a bit and knocked him off his game early.

More evidence: though I really dislike Newton's 'tea pot' first down move, I think the fact he failed to do move the entire game shows he didn't have his usual 'affable' demeanor, for a lack of better word.

Missing from Newton's game was his signature, and sometimes criticized, first-down signal. He scrambled for first downs twice in the first half, but neither time did he point for the first down like he's done for his three-plus seasons in Carolina. Rivera posited it was maybe because Newton was tired after the runs, but he also took a big hit from New Orleans safety Vinnie Sunseri on his first scramble, leaving Newton woozy.

Rivera sure is quick with the excuses for his QB's play. If Newton was too tired after making 1st downs then it was because he was running for his life. Funny though that has never caused Newton to not make the gesture in the past. Some call it cocky, but I've never seen Newton that way. He is just confident.

Now if that hit had been the only big hit he took then I think Newton would have recovered. But then the effect of starting 4 UDFA's on the offensive line compounded Newton's frustration. He lost total trust in his blind side protection and looked skittish the rest of the game. In turn Newton's bad habit of throwing off his back foot manifested and impacted his throws. He wasn't just off, he was way off on many of his throws.

In his fourth season you would think Newton would have developed the maturity to shake off big hits. You would think he could handle pressure from a porous offensive line. On Thursday Night it didn't happen. He got knocked off his game and never got back on it. We have to hope it doesn't linger into next Monday's game. Now is no time to shy from the spot light, the Panthers are right back in it at Philly. They do have ten days to get over it.

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