SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – A dejected Cam Newton sat slouching behind the podium on Sunday night, wearing a black Panthers hoodie and a frown.
The league’s top player this season didn’t feel much like answering questions, doing so mostly in delayed, two-word answers. Some questions he just let pass without answering at all — except for one which said it all.
“They made more plays than us and that’s what it comes down to,” Newton said during a brief three-minute interview following Carolina’s 24-10 Super Bowl loss to Denver. “We had our opportunities and it was nothing special that they did. We dropped balls. We turned the ball over. We gave up sacks. We threw errant passes. That’s it.”
Newton’s dream season ended with a nightmare performance.
Fresh off being earning his first MVP award on Saturday night, the Panthers fifth-year quarterback was stymied by an aggressive Denver Broncos defense in his first Super Bowl appearance on Sunday.
The 196-cm, 111-kg quarterback who scored 45 touchdowns during the regular season — and five more in the playoffs — failed to produce a TD, running or throwing, for the first time this season and the Panthers lost in Super Bowl 50. Carolina’s only score came on a 1-yard run by Jonathan Stewart.
Newton didn’t get a chance to give any balls away to kids on the front row of Levi’s Stadium.
“This is one those things that is going to hurt,” Rivera said of Newton. “It’s going to hurt everybody for a while and hopefully after a few days we will get over it.”
Newton has failed to score a TD eight times in his career, but none since Oct. 26, 2014.
He didn’t get much help from his offensive line which allowed a Super Bowl record-tying seven sacks, or his wide receivers, who dropped big passes at key times.
Newton spent much of the game under heavy duress as the Panthers were unable to handle the pressure of Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware on the edges. Miller had 2½ sacks, including two strip-sacks against overmatched right tackle Mike Remmers that led to Denver’s two touchdowns.
“I don’t think we played well around him,” said tight end Greg Olsen. “It was us not getting open, not catching balls that were tight but we have to come down with, we need to do a better job in the run game. This can’t turn into the what-happened-to-Cam-Newton show.”
Denver’s first touchdown came when Miller blew past Remmers and ripped the ball out of Newton’s grasp. Malik Jackson recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown to put the Panthers in an early 10-0 hole they could never dig out of.
Later, Miller beat Remmers for another strip sack and the Broncos put the game away with a touchdown and two-point conversion.
“I knew he was going to be really quick,” Remmers said. “I knew he was going to be a tremendous athlete and it was going to be a big challenge.”