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Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton's Historic Debut Against the Arizona Cardinals

Matt Bowen@@IsItGameTimeYetAnalyst IISeptember 12, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11: Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers warms up prior to the NFL season opening game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

Cam Newton lived up to the hype Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. Although the Carolina Panthers lost 28-21, Panthers fans have to be excited for the future.

Selected No. 1 overall in the 2011 NFL draft, Newton put on a show Sunday. He threw for 422 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also added a touchdown on the ground.

Newton's 422 yards through the air tied Matthew Stafford's rookie-record for production. He also broke the record for most passing yards in a quarterback's first game—a record set by Peyton Manning. Needless to say, it was quite a remarkable day for Mr. Newton. 

After a sub-par preseason, naysayers began to question his ability, but Newton proved his pundits wrong with his performance on Sunday. He was 24 for 37 on the day, which is greatly improved from his preseason completion percentage of 40.4 percent.

Newton quickly made a new best friend in wide receiver Steve Smith. The tandem hooked up eight times for 178 and two touchdowns. Smith proved that he still has enough speed to burn defenders while Newton proved that he has the arm strength to reach Smith anywhere on the field. This combination will soon have opposing coaches pulling their hair out trying to figure out a way to stop them.

Newton will have to carry the confidence and momentum he gained on Sunday into next week as the Panthers host the Green Bay Packers. The upcoming game against the defending Super Bowl champions will be a true test for Newton and the Panthers.

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Because of Newton's output in Week 1, this game has instantly become a must-see.    

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