Cam Newton Throws for NFL Rookie Record 432 Yards, But Still Winless

September 18, 2011 - 8:00 PM
Packers Panthers Football

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) rolls out to pass against the Green Bay Packers during the first quarter of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Cam Newton has thrown for more than 400 yards in both of his games in the NFL. He's shown poise against the pass rush and surprising accuracy after his struggles in the preseason.

He's also still winless as a starting quarterback.

Newton threw for an NFL rookie record 432 yards and a touchdown in the Panthers' 30-23 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. It followed his 422-yard performance -- a league record for a quarterback in his pro debut -- in last week's loss at Arizona. And in both games, Newton has done enough to put the Panthers within reach of a win only to come up short in the final minutes.

"We've just got to get it right. We're going to get it right," Newton said. "But I'm not the person to just sit up here and say, 'Well, we have next time.' I'm not that type of person. I want it right now and I want to get it right now."

Newton cracked the 400-yard mark on a drive that ended with his 4-yard score on a keeper with 37 seconds left, pulling Carolina (0-2) to within seven points before the Packers recovered an onside kick to seal it. The No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft and Heisman Trophy winner completed 28 of 46 passes, but was sacked four times and threw three interceptions. He also showed plenty of mobility and finished as Carolina's top rusher with 53 yards.

Newton briefly held the NFL record for most passing yards in the first two games of the season by any quarterback (854), before New England's Tom Brady broke it a few hours later. Newton still set a league record for most yards passing in the first two games of a career.

"I like where he's headed," said Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, who had two picks. "He's coming in with a ton of confidence. He had some plays today when we were able to get the ball from him, but he handles himself well. He's only going to get better as time goes on."

For the Packers, Aaron Rodgers threw for 308 yards and two scores to help the Super Bowl champions rally from a 13-0 deficit in the first half.

Rodgers found Greg Jennings for a 49-yard touchdown early in the third quarter to put the Packers ahead for good. Then, after Clay Matthews stopped Newton on a fourth-down run inside the 5 in the fourth quarter, Rodgers found Jordy Nelson for an 84-yard touchdown with 2:14 left to make it a two-possession game and help the Packers hang on.

Newton couldn't have asked for a better start in his home debut, throwing for a 3-yard touchdown to Brandon LaFell on his first drive. But Rodgers and the Packers offense -- which spent most of the first quarter on the sideline -- finally got in rhythm and ran off 23 straight points.

Newton, meanwhile, made his first rookie mistake late in the second quarter by throwing to Smith in double coverage. Woodson jumped in front of Smith near the left sideline to come up with the first interception with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the half.

Newton's second interception came when he tried to sidearm a throw with Matthews pressuring him. The throw appeared to be slightly behind Smith and Woodson picked it off.

On the third, Newton simply overthrew an open Legedu Naanee and the ball ended up in the arms of safety Morgan Burnett near midfield late in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Rodgers played a mistake-free game and completed 19 of 30 throws. John Kuhn added a goal line plunge for the Packers' first touchdown of the day, while Mason Crosby kicked three field goals as the Packers just kept coming up with scores to put the pressure on Newton and Carolina's offense.

Green Bay safety Nick Collins was carried off the field on a stretcher after he injured his neck in the fourth quarter. He was hurt as he tried to tackle Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart on a catch. Stewart tried to hurdle Collins, whose head appeared to hit Stewart's left hip as he dove for Stewart's legs. Collins' neck bent awkwardly on the hit and he landed face down on the turf with 11:57 left, though he gave a slight wave to the crowd as he was being carried off the field.