In Sunday’s slugfest for NFC South supremacy, it was not New Orleans Saints signal caller Drew Brees that came away appearing like an MVP candidate, but rather Carolina Panthers‘ Cam Newton. The third-year pro and one-time BCS National Champion out of Auburn placed his team just one win shy of clinching a division title after his late-game heroics led to a 17-13 victory in front of the home crowd at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Trailing by three points with just 55 ticks of the clock remaining in regulation, the Panthers started the eventual game-winning drive at their own 35-yard line. Over the next 32 seconds, Newton completed 3-of-4 pass attempts for 65 yards, including the 14-yard strike to wide receiver Domenik Hixon that put Carolina on top for good. This type of crunch-time performance is exactly what the voters look for in a possible MVP Award recipient.
In 15 games this season, Newton has completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 3230 yards with 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In addition, he has racked up over 500 yards rushing and another half dozen scores. Those numbers may not resemble the marks of recent MVP winners, but Newton’s value to his team and what they have accomplished is unquestionable.
Newton has not carried the Panthers anywhere close to the playoffs in his first two seasons at the helm of the offense. Now, after wins in 10 of the last 11 games, his team stands at 11-4 overall and needs to simply hold off the hapless Atlanta Falcons in Week 17 in order to claim the No. 2 seed in the NFC.