INDIANAPOLIS It was essentially an exhibition against an AFC team whose defensive intensity fluctuated throughout the game.
But Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton made no excuses for his poor showing in his first Pro Bowl last week in the NFC’s 59-41 loss.
Playing the entire second half, Newton was 9-of-27 passing with two touchdowns and three interceptions – one of which was returned for a touchdown. While Newton conceded it was difficult to gauge the intensity level of the defense, he said it shouldn’t have mattered.
“That’s my job to find and still perform at a high level. I think I failed myself, and to some degree the fans. I didn’t put on my best performance,” Newton said Thursday. “But I was still trying to get into a groove or rhythm of the game. But at the end of the day, it’s still football. And if you’re not out there giving it your all, it will show.”
The AFC seemed to ratchet up its defensive pressure when Newton entered the game after questionable effort by both teams in the first half. Newton was sacked twice by Denver’s Von Miller and flushed from the pocket several other times, drawing boos from the Aloha Stadium crowd.
“You live and you learn. I’m not going to point any fingers or take any shots at anybody because at the end of the day football is still a physical sport,” Newton said. “So what was done to me was done to me, and I take it all with a love of the game. Hopefully, I get back there and have a better performance.”
Newton is the presumptive Offensive Rookie of the Year, which will be announced Saturday, after he broke Peyton Manning’s rookie passing record with 4,051 yards and finished with the most rushing touchdowns (14) for a quarterback in league history.
But the interceptions last week in Hawaii continued a season-long theme for Newton, whose 17 picks were the sixth-highest total in the league.
“With me going back and watching the film of last year, the only thing that keeps coming out still to this day is protecting the football,” Newton said. “What was it, 17 interceptions that I threw? Those have to be cut down and minimized for us to have success as an overall team.”
Newton made several national media appearances Thursday at the JW Marriott, the Super Bowl media headquarters. The interviews came a day after Newton signed a multiyear endorsement deal with Gatorade, which will air two TV spots featuring Newton beginning this spring, said Carlos Fleming, Newton’s marketing director with IMG.
While Newton was leaving the NFL Network’s set, he shook hands and spoke briefly with Joe Montana, the Hall of Fame quarterback who won four Super Bowl titles with San Francisco.
“Unbelievable, man,” Newton said of the Super Bowl week. “I’m kind of envious that it’s not what I’m a part of. But it just gives me something I need to work for in the coming years.”