The primetime win served as a nice breath of fresh air for Panthers fans accustomed to close losses, but the hope for fans going into Monday night was not just a win for the Panthers, but for quarterback Cam Newton to shine in his first ever Monday night performance.
Fans familiar with the NFL knew coming into 2012 that Newton was going to struggle, that’s just how this league works, so it was important for Newton to get off the snide in prime-time when a lot of die-hard football fans around the country were tuning in.
Newton delivered, throwing for 306 yards and two touchdowns while running in two touchdowns of his own. Newton’s numbers were nice, but what really mattered was the fortitude he displayed in guiding his team to their third win. That’s right, even though the Panthers’ season is all but over from a playoff standpoint; Newton still has a lot to play for.
Newton has been criticized for being immature and portrayed as someone who doesn’t care, sulking on the sidelines leading up to a loss. Sure that’s how he’s been portrayed, but that’s not who he is.
There have been moments in Newton’s young career that foretell the type of career he will have as a professional football player.
One that comes to mind occurred during Newton’s rookie season (2011) in week 15 road game against the Houston Texans. It was a late game situation and the Panthers were about to embark on a critical drive. Newton took the huddle and yelled what appeared to be the words “listen to me,” grabbing hold of his teammates’ attention. With a deafening Houston crowd on their feet, Newton drove his team down the field to score a game defining touchdown. The Panthers would end up beating the Texans on the road that week.
His second impactful display of talent and leadership was witnessed this past Monday night.
The Panthers have five games remaining this year. Newton’s performances going forward are crucial for his momentum heading into next season.
Though, these next five games won’t define the player that Newton is. He’s already shown everyone the kind of player he is and will continue to become.
Robert Kester, Carolina Panthers Columnist. Contact @robertkester1