NFL

Panthers aglow as Cam Newton's sensational return sparks rout of Cardinals

By Sports Desk November 14, 2021

The Carolina Panthers had been listless through the middle of the NFL season, losing five of their last six games entering Sunday's contest and lacking an identity on offence under quarterback Sam Darnold. 

Carolina's move to bring back franchise icon Cam Newton on Thursday electrified the fan base, with children all over Charlotte pulling old Newton jerseys out of their closets to wear to school on Friday. 

Once Newton stepped on the field against a one-loss Arizona Cardinals team, the feel-good story got even better, as he generated touchdowns on his first two snaps of the game and inspired the Panthers to a 34-10 rout.

After running the ball in from two yards out for a score on his first play of the season, Newton ripped his helmet off and screamed "I'm back!" at the television cameras.  

The Panthers could not have been happier, as they got back to .500 at 5-5 and steadied themselves in the NFC playoff picture, where they currently sit seventh. 

"The energy was crazy today," said Panthers linebacker – and former Cardinal – Haason Reddick. "It was on a different level." 

Newton was at the center of it, but the former MVP tried in his inimitable way to deflect credit after the game. 

"I'll put it like this: This time last week, I was eating a bowl of cereal. You feel me?" Newton told reporters. 

"So, that just puts things into perspective. After going to church, being with my children and really not even watching football; it was just about maximising the person I need to be and so for that it was just all a rush of emotions.

"But yet I know a lot of people in the media, the titles of the newspapers, the blogs, they want to make it about me and it's not about me and I keep saying this. This was an impeccable team win."

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule echoed the latter sentiment, praising quarterback P.J. Walker for his performance but declining to commit to giving him another start next week. 

"That was fun today," Rhule said. "Let's let it be fun." 

Considering the Panthers return home next week to host the Washington Football Team, led by long-time Panthers coach Ron Rivera, Bank of America Stadium would be at a fever pitch if Newton did indeed get the start after a full week of practice. 

The 32-year-old Newton played only eight snaps in Arizona but was the center of attention before, during and after the game. 

Asked how much of the Panthers' playbook he had a chance to learn in the handful of days since he signed, Newton replied, "Two touchdowns' worth." 

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