The team's young star quarterback continues to build upon the successful season he's putting together. With the win, Newton and the Panthers move to 8-3 and have now won seven games in a row. Sunday marked the second consecutive occasion in which a long fourth quarter drive, ending with a Newton touchdown pass, made the difference.
Here are five important takeaways that fans can gather from the former Heisman Trophy winner's performance against the Dolphins:
1. New England victory wasn't a fluke
When the Panthers captured their seventh win of the season on a 13-play, 83-yard drive that was capped by the game-winning 25-yard touchdown pass from Newton to Ted Ginn Jr., there was a certain portion of the NFL fan base that deemed Newton's comeback effort to be a fluke.
In the victory over the Dolphins, Newton came through again—finishing a game-winning 12-play, 72-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown strike to tight end Greg Olsen.
The clutch performances by the Panthers' young quarterback have emboldened him as a football player and endeared him to his coach.
Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera stated to Steve Reed of the Associated Press:
"The thing that was really neat about it is you see him maturing as a football player."
2. Newton is a winner
Newton didn't lose a single game as a starter in college, posting a perfect 14-0 record and a national championship in his only season at Auburn.
The Panthers were granted the first overall pick in 2011 as a result of going 2-14 in the 2010 NFL season. Each year that Newton's been a starter in Carolina, the team's win total has increased.
In 2011, the Panthers won six games, followed by seven wins in 2012. And with the Dolphins victory, the Panthers are now 8-3 in 2013, have won seven games in a row and are firmly entrenched in the battle for the NFC South crown.
3. Numbers don't matter
In the Panthers' victory over the Dolphins, Cam Newton threw for 174 yards with a touchdown and an interception while completing a season-low 50 percent of his passes.
In the seven wins this season prior to the Dolphins victory, Newton had thrown 14 touchdowns—averaging two touchdown passes per win. In a game in which Newton had been shut down by the stingy Dolphins' defense all day, he maintained his composure and led a drive late in the fourth quarter that resulted in the Panthers taking their first lead since the first quarter (stats via Espn.go.com).
Newton was able to overcome a not-so-stellar performance individually, and find a way to win in the end.
4. Newton takes "dual-threat" to another level
Newton has proven that he's just as formidable with his legs as he is with his arm—rushing for 51 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins.
He's the Panthers' second-leading rusher and has led the team by finding pay-dirt with his feet five times on the season (stats via NFL.com).
His hard-nosed running and attitude have earned Newton the respect of his teammates. After the game, left tackle Jordan Gross said to Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer:
“But I’ve said it since the day he walked in here, Cam’s as tough as they come. He gets hit, gets up and keeps swinging. I really respect that out of him and he doesn’t ever point fingers or get upset.”
5. Newton won't be denied when he takes over
Often times, such was the case in the Dolphins win, Newton gets off to a slow start but finishes strong.
In the first half of games this season, Newton has completed 59.6 percent of his passes to go with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. In the second half of games this season, he's completed 64.4 percent of his passes for nine touchdowns and just two interceptions (stats via Espn.go.com).
Newton's will to win is what sets him apart from other great quarterbacks around the league. He was quoted as saying to Jockbio.com:
"You don't go into the game to compete. You go into each game to win."
As such, his ability to get a first down when it's needed has led the Panthers to a 46.9 percent conversion rate on third down—the second-best third-down conversion rate in the NFL, trailing only Denver.
Going forward, The Panthers face a combined opponent record on their remaining schedule of 28-27—including two match-ups with the division-leading New Orleans Saints (stat via Panthers.com). Newton's performance will be on full display as he looks to maintain Carolina's winning ways.
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