SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Cam Newton had an MVP season, leading the Carolina Panthers to a 15-1 regular season and into the Super Bowl with two playoff wins.
Then came Sunday and Denver’s 24-10 win for the league championship, and after a week of verbal dabbing, Newton looked older than Peyton Manning. He was sacked six times (Denver also had one on Ted Ginn Jr. after a throw back), fumbled twice, threw an interception, was harassed often and officially hit 13 times (though it seemed like 113).
Afterward, he looked old, he felt old, he sat dejectedly in a black hoodie and the last thing he felt like doing is talk about what happened.
Here’s Newton’s entire post-game interview session with the media:
On the loss: “They just played better than us. I don’t know what you want me to say. They made more plays than us and that’s what it came down to. We had our opportunities. There wasn’t nothing special that they did. We dropped balls. We turned the ball over, gave up sacks, threw errant passes. That’s it. They scored more points than we did.”
On what he would tell fans: “We’ll be back.”
On why Carolina didn’t play as well as they have: “They outplayed us.”
On what coach Ron Rivera said to them: “He told us a lot of things.”
On if Denver did anything unexpected: “Nothing different.”
On if he could put his disappointment into words: “We lost.”
On if Denver changed anything to take away Carolina’s running lanes: “No.”
With that, he walked off the podium.
For what it’s worth: While Newton did not play well Sunday, this game was about Denver’s defensive front dominating Carolina’s offensive line, particularly the Panthers’ revolving-door tackles. Newton didn’t have a chance.
As for his abbreviated comments, I’m not going to bang on him for that. He could have handled the post-game better but he was good with the media all week, even amusing when he was worn down by some inane and repeated questions. He’s an emotional player, and emotional person, so it wasn’t surprising to see him react the way he did.
But it wasn’t a good final picture for the 2015-16 season.
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