On February 7, 2016, named as the NFL MVP and with the plaudits rolling in, the world seemed to be at Cam Newton’s feet.
The then 26-year-old had thrown 45 total touchdowns during the regular season and led NFL quarterbacks in rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns for the year, helping the Panthers to a franchise regular-season best of 15-1.
But, then came a devastating 24-10 defeat to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 later that day, before an alarming regression in the 2016 season.
Newton fell far short of the heights he hit the previous year. He finished 2016 with a career-worst 52.9 pass completion percentage, having thrown 14 interceptions – the second-most of his six-year career at that stage.
Although the 2017 season saw an improvement from the Panthers – an 11-5 regular season record – Newton still fell below the high standards he set two years previous. And, while he threw two touchdowns in the Wild Card playoff defeat against the New Orleans Saints, the Panthers were still beaten by their division rivals.
This year, Newton looks to have rediscovered the 2015 flair and form which helped lead Carolina to the Super Bowl promised land. But, this Sunday, he faces arguably his toughest test of the season as the Panthers face up against a Baltimore Ravens team that currently boasts the No 1 defense in the NFL – is he up to the task?
October 28, 2018, 4:30pm
Any thoughts of writing Newton off as past his best have been summarily dismissed by an impressive start to the 2018 season, including a scintillating 21-17 comeback win over the current Super Bowl champions Philadelphia Eagles last weekend – rallying his team after trailing 17-0 going into the final quarter.
Just six games into the season, the quarterback has already thrown 11 touchdown passes and picked up three rushing TDs – already exactly half of what he managed over the entire 16-week season in 2017.