TAMPA, Fla. (AP)—Cam Newton insists his success isn’t coming easily. All he’s doing is whatever he can to help the Carolina Panthers win.
On Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that was just about everything.
|Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) runs off the field following an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
The rookie ran for three more touchdowns to set the NFL single-season record for TDs rushing by a quarterback, pacing a 38-19 rout of the struggling Buccaneers with a dominating performance that revealed something else he’s capable of doing: catching passes.
The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner scored the 11th, 12th and 13th TDs of his career on a trio of 1-yard runs. He also had his first reception as a pro to set up Jonathan Stewart’s first-quarter TD, then threw a 19-yard TD pass to Legedu Naanee to finish one of Carolina’s three scoring drives of 80-plus yards.
“I wouldn’t say it’s easier each week. It’s a challenge each and every week,” Newton said after Carolina (4-8) won its second straight to double the team’s victory total for last season.
“The one thing I’ve seemed to get is more comfortable,” the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft added. “Dictating to the defense to some degree with your eyes, the pre-snap reads. The only difference in the NFL and college is the athleticism increases at each position.”
Newton completed 12 of 21 passes for 204 yards and no interceptions. He added 54 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Newton leaped over the pile to finish an 83-yard, game-opening march and tied the record for rushing TDs by a quarterback to make it 31-12 in the third quarter. His third TD, giving him one more than New England’s Steve Grogan scored in 1976, finished a 15-play, 81-yard drive.
“It does mean something to me. I’m not going to sit up here and say it doesn’t mean something,” Newton said of the record. “I’m not focusing on individualism in this game. It’s still 11-on-11. I don’t think I could’ve done anything without those other 10 guys, most importantly the five guys who are blocking their tails off each and every snap.”