02/14/16 by Matthew S. Vandriak
Cam Newton was named the NFL's 2015 MVP. He passed for over 3,800 yards and threw 35 touchdowns. He rushed for over 600 more yards and scored another 10 TD's on the ground. He led the Carolina Panthers to the best regular season record in the NFL. And in the post season, he led the Panthers to their second Super Bowl appearance in the franchise's 20 year history. Then he fumbled in the Super Bowl.
Well not only did he fumble, he fumbled with the Panthers down by 6 points in the 4th quarter. And instead of going after the ball and diving on it, he just watched the ball on the ground before it was recovered by Denver's DeMarcus Ware at the Panthers 4 yard line. What was then a 16 to 10 Broncos lead became a 24 to 10 Broncos win after the turnover was turned into a touchdown plus a 2 point conversion.
So why didn't Cam Newton go after the football with some aggression? Newton's reply was that he didn't want to risk getting injured. That didn't go over so well with, well, just about anybody. Almost everyone from analysts, former and current players, and fans said there was no excuse for him not diving in to get that ball. The consensus opinion seems to be what was he thinking? This is the Super Bowl, you have to go in without hesitation and get that ball. Had the Panthers recovered, they would have still had a chance in the game. And for saying he didn't want to get injured as the reason he didn't go after the ball, well that went over about as well as Johnny Manziel's off the field antics have with the Cleveland Browns and the NFL.
But is it fair to judge Newton's season on that one play? Is it fair to say the season was a failure because the Super Bowl was lost? Is it fair to say Newton's reaction, or lack there of, on the fumble is the reason why the Panthers lost? No it isn't. Look, Cam Newton's actions after the Super Bowl and the way he handled himself showed a lack of maturity on his part. But the fumble wasn't the reason Carolina lost the Super Bowl.
Denver was the better team. They came out with a better game plan. They executed that game plan better than Carolina executed theirs. One play didn't decide that game. What if Newton did recover the fumble and Carolina was able to punt it instead of losing the ball on their 4 yard line? And then Denver returned the punt for a touchdown. Or deep into Panthers territory and kicked a field goal to make it a two score game. The game would still be over and nobody would be talking about the fumble.
But what if Newton did go after the fumble, recovered it, and got hurt? Not just hurt, but seriously hurt. Do you think Carolina would sniff another Super Bowl in the years to come without Cam Newton? He practically was Super Man at some points of the season, as he carried the Panthers offense in several games and brought them back when their defense couldn't hold leads.
Question his maturity if you want. Question his decision as well. But don't judge Cam Newton's season on that one play. He deserves better than that.
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