Cam Newton isn’t used to losing (28-21 to the Arizona Cardinals) – The last time I lost a game was Navarro Junior College. What do you want me to say, it feels great? It is not a comfortable feeling for me. The Panthers’ rookie quarterback became the first player to throw over 400 yards (422 to be exact) on his NFL debut, beating Otto Graham’s 346 from 1950. He tied with Matthew Stafford for most yards thrown by a rookie.
That wasn’t the only incredible thing about Newton’s numbers – He threw for 2 TDs and one interception, finishing with a 110.4 QB rating. He was extremely successful going deep, throwing 9-13 when attempting passes for 15 yards or more. His 77 yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith was the fifth longest in franchise history and the longest by a rookie since 1968 (Greg Landry).
But as much as it was a brilliant debut for Newton on this young Carolina team under Ron Rivera, another rookie, for the Cardinals, got the job done, and the the win at the end of the day. Patrick Peterson ran for 89 yards with a punt Return to put Arizona 28-21 ahead with 7 minutes to go. Newton took his team 76 yards on their last drive, into the Arizona 6, but at 4th and 5, with just over a minute to go, couldn’t get anything in that end zone possession.
For the Cardinals, Kevin Kolb didn’t really suffer from Larry Fitzgerald having to cope with double and triple teams all day long. He threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns, including a 70 yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Early Doucet, tying the game at 21. Beanie Wells, the former Buckeye, who didn’t get to touch the ball too much last season, ran for 90 yards and touchdown. Carolina – Despite the trio of DeAgelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton, couldn’t get more than 74 yards in 27 carries on the ground.
Newton and Steve Smith are going to be one hell of a combination – for fans to watch and for fantasy teams to own. But Carolina need more than just a passing game, as Newton will find out later this season against more formidable opponents – protection, defense, a running game. It’s going to be a long rookie season for the Heisman trophy winner.