Cam Newton says his fumble on final drive against Bills was ‘unacceptable’

Newton fumbled the ball on a drive where the Patriots could have tied or taken the lead late in the fourth quarter.

Cam Newton (1) reacts after fumbling the ball during the final drive of Sunday's loss to the Bills.
Cam Newton (1) reacts after fumbling the ball during the final drive of Sunday's loss to the Bills. –AP Photo/John Munson

Cam Newton seemed to finally be on the right track in Sunday’s game against the Bills.

Down 24-21, Newton was looking to lead the Patriots on their third straight touchdown drive to give them the lead in the final moments. New England got down to Buffalo’s 19-yard line and with 37 seconds left, Newton scrambled to try and get the Patriots another first down. However, Bills defensive tackle Justin Zimmer punched the ball out of Newton’s hand and Bills safety Dean Marlowe recovered it, ending Newton’s hopes of becoming “Comeback Cam.”

“It’s unacceptable,” Newton said of his fumble. “I’ve got to protect the ball better.”

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While running to the left side of the field, Newton held the ball in his right arm, keeping it toward the open field as opposed toward the sideline where the ball could have bounced out of play, which would have saved the Patriots.

“In that situation, with the game on the line, I’m dominantly right-handed,” Newton said. “So, prior to me putting the ball in my left hand, which is my weakest arm, I felt more comfortable with the ball in my right hand. I usually almost always tend to run with my right hand, just for comfort (*sighs*).”

Prior to the fumble, Newton appeared to have gotten out of his funk. Even though he threw for just 174 yards, he completed 15 of 25 passes (60 percent) without having his two top-targeted receivers (Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry) to throw to. He also rushed for 54 yards on nine rushes with a rushing touchdown.

More importantly, Newton didn’t throw an interception Sunday, marking the first time since Week 1 that he hadn’t thrown a pick. It’s also a progression after throwing five interceptions in the last two games.

While Newton seemed to finally put some things together, he still lamented his fumble.

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“It affects me more that I’m still jeopardizing this team’s success because of my lackluster performances of protecting the football,” Newton said when asked if his fumble felt worse due to how well he was playing. “Coach trusts me with the ball in my hands and I wouldn’t want it any other way, and I’ve just got to do a better job of protecting it.

“Everything was rolling as we would have expected it to,” Newton later added on the final drive. “Wasting time. Still staying efficient. Moving the ball forward. But once we get in there we just got to do a better job of protecting the football.”

Sunday’s loss marks four straight for the Patriots, making them 2-5 for the season. As Newton said, “you’re just measured by wins and losses,” and the Patriots sit four wins behind the Bills for first place in the AFC East.

With their record, the Patriots sit in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008 while Newton’s seat as starting quarterback gets hotter with each loss.

“It’s extremely frustrating but this league is not about what have you done before. It’s about what have you done for me lately,” Newton said. “I understand that. This is a production-based league. Coach preaches each and every day to protect the football. Play smart football. I’m converting to it, outside of this last play.

“I think this is what makes this so frustrating. Being that you’re trying extremely hard but at the end of the day, when you don’t get the results that you want, then what do you do? We just have to focus back into practice and have our best week yet and keep building.”

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