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Love him or hate him (I think there are more of the latter) the kid did good work against the Cardinals. He didn’t get the win, but statistically he was phenomenal.
Newton set a rookie debut record with 422 passing yards. He had more touchdowns (two) than interceptions (one), which is a nice change of pace from Newton’s preseason. He also had 18 rushing yards and another score, meaning he accounted for all of Carolina’s touchdowns.
If the running game struggles like it did against the Cardinals and like it did last season they may need Newton to play like this every week. Either way, it was a promising sign for Panthers' fans.
Also good to see for the Panthers’ sake was the chemistry Newton had with WR Steve Smith. Many expected Newton to go to TE Greg Olsen more frequently, but Smith had eight catches for 178 yards and two touchdowns. That already matches his TD total from last season. He also hasn’t had a 100-yard receiving game since Week 16 of 2009, and in the previous two seasons he’s only had two 100-yard receiving games.
Newton won’t put up these numbers every week, but it looks like he can play. And if he can continually hook up with Smith like this and re-energize his career, the Panthers could start climbing out of the NFL basement much faster than anticipated.
Honorable Mentions: Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers; Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona Cardinals; Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Washington Redskins