Newton shines bright in NFL debut

One more yard.

That’s all Cam Newton needed to break the Carolina Panthers single game passing record held by Chris Weinke.

It’s also the distance the Panthers needed on their last offensive play of the game to give the offense another set of downs in the red zone as Carolina attempted to tie the game late.

Newton was spectacular in his debut, completing 23-of-47 passes for 422 yards and two touchdowns while leaping over the goal line for another score rushing as well.

Still, the effort wasn’t enough to defeat the Arizona Cardinals, who came back from two scores down in the fourth quarter to defeat the Panthers 28-21.

Newton was poised and accurate, despite the Cardinals blitzing on nearly every snap. It’s hard for verteran players to deal with, let alone a player making his first ever NFL start.

“I thought Cam’s performance was very strong,” Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said after the game. “He gave us an opportunity to win. He made one mistake on one throw. Other than that he played the way you would expect a starting quarterback in the NFL to play. He was very efficient, very effective. He did some good things but he has a long way to go. He has a lot to learn, but I can’t be more pleased with his rookie performance today on our opener as our starter.”

Newton’s teammates were also impressed with his level of play in his first game.

“His performance was excellent,” Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith said. “He made it easy to catch them.”

“I think he played great,” running back Mike Goodson said. “He led very well from in the huddle. He made some great
throws. For a rookie, there’s nothing more you can ask for.”

However, Newton himself wasn’t pleased with the outcome of the game, despite breaking Peyton Manning’s record of most passing yards in an NFL debut.

“There’s going to be a lot more things I can look back on tomorrow after I watch the film,” Newton said. “One thing I know right now is you have to capitalize. When you’re in the redzone, you can’t take the sack, you can’t digress. You have to capitalize and get points when it matters. I can remember two times when we had the ball in reasonable field position for our kicker, we have a good enough kicker to kick those field goals, but we just got out of position. That’s what kills us. But like I said, there’s some good things we did in this game.

“We were extremely close to winning, but we just have to go back and get better.”