A day after the Patriots ended a four-game losing streak with a 30-27 comeback win over the Jets, Cam Newton knows the team is still only 3-5 and has a long way to go.
Asked during his weekly interview on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” if he felt better with New England’s first win since Sept. 27, Newton replied, “Just a little bit.”
“But we just have to keep things in perspective,” he added.
Despite scoring a first quarter touchdown for the first time all season, the Patriots trailed at halftime (and, in fact, well into the fourth quarter). Through the difficulties, Newton explained that team leadership never lost perspective.
“At halftime the first thing Josh McDaniels [said] to the offense is, ‘Hey, we’re going to win this game,'” the Patriots’ quarterback recalled. “And those words, that statement kind of put everything into perspective, kind of registered a lot of things in everybody’s mind — I know it did for me — and it just said, ‘Just find a way.'”
Sometimes, it meant making a tough play, or taking a painful hit. Newton experienced this first hand when he was on the receiving end of a roughing the passer penalty by Jets safety Ashtyn Davis during the first half.
“My neck is only working on a degree angle that shuts off the degrees to one-five,” Newton joked of how he feels the day after. “So my eye muscles are getting a lot of work in today. You know what? I told Josh [McDaniels] on the sideline, ‘Bro, that’s my fault, and I deserved it.’
“But,” Newton continued, “it got us 15 yards though so it’s just the price you have to pay.”
Newton is not a fan of “taking a shot downfield” just for the sake of it.
Asked about the team’s struggles to stretch the field vertically in the passing game, Newton responded with a chuckle.
“I don’t understand, what do people want me to do?” he asked. “You want me to just chuck the ball downfield just to say we did it?”
Explaining that he hears it not only from the media or fans, the 31-year-old said that the Patriots have indeed been trying to throw deep.
“I hear it all the time, I come home, I look at my phone from family members [saying], ‘Man, we need to take shots downfield,'” said Newton. “I say, ‘Well, if coach calls a shot downfield and it’s not open, you just have to make the right decision.'”
“Trust me, I made a pair of mistakes this year already by just chucking it and saying ‘God, take over,'” Newton noted. “It doesn’t fair well for just a wasted down. Coach calls shots. If it’s not open, it’s my job to make the right decision just to keep the ball and this offense going in a positive way.”
He believes the tough wins, even against the Jets, can be a building block.
The Monday win provided some relief for a Patriots team that had been free-falling through the whole month of October. Still, the victory came against the 0-9 Jets.
When reminded that Patriots fans might not be impressed with such an achievement, Newton reflexively replied with humor.
“Tough crowd,” joked Newton. “But for real, listen, this is the NFL and it’s just not a movie title, it’s literally any given Sunday. And you have to bring your lunch pail each and every day and execute what we did. Now, did we kind of keep the game relatively close more than we wanted to? Absolutely, but games like we’ve been in this year as a team, if you can manage to win those games and find ways to win, it builds character, and it builds team chemistry, and it builds team confidence.”
In Newton’s view, proving that the team can come through in the clutch is of vital importance for future scenarios.
“Winning 30-8, 30-10, those are great wins, but when you get the 21-24s, you start realizing we can find a way to win, and unfortunately this year we haven’t been able to find ways to win the close games,” said Newton. “People can say whatever about our opponent that we’re playing, but this is going to come up again, and we’ve got to have the situational football where instead of guys being more tense in close games, we’re able to still stay more relaxed and be able to find ways to win because we’ve been in these situations so many times this year.”
He responded to those who think the 2020 Patriots should try to lose for a better draft pick.
Despite the win, the Patriots remain in third place in the AFC East, and face a long climb to get back into playoff position.
Newton was asked about the opinion expressed recently that New England should focus on the future and try to lose its remaining games to help its future draft pick status.
In essence, the Patriots’ quarterback expressed a common Belichick saying: Ignore the noise.
“You have to understand, whatever is said on a radio station and social media, the comments, I don’t hear it,” said Newton. “And I think for some things, it’s good I don’t hear it, and even better things, I don’t hear it. I don’t want to know. I don’t want to hear the success, and just because we won, that doesn’t mean I’m turning on [ESPN show] ‘First Take’ or seeing what you guys are going to say. For me, I have my blinders on and I’m focused on the team really getting better.”
The recent losses have been a motivating factor.
“I took it personally these last couple of weeks, knowing that we’re close,” said Newton.
“For me to be dialed in, locked in, I want people to see that who are in this locker room, to show [I’m] here working, you ain’t got to worry about Cam,” he added. “I want to get to that point. I need to get to that point.”
Asked if he thinks Belichick would consider tanking, he cited a quote from former Jets coach Herman Edwards.
“Hell no, what are we doing?” Newton asked. “It’s an iconic quote that says, ‘You play to win the game.’ It’s simple. We’re halfway through a season where everything that we want is in front of us.”
While the comeback against the Jets was far from a statement win, Newton still thinks the team is heading in the right direction.
“It wasn’t perfect,” he explained. “We understand that last night wasn’t perfect, but we had the opportunities and we made the most of them.”
No fans at Gillette Stadium means ‘watered down’ momentum.
An announcement was made on Monday afternoon that fans wouldn’t be allowed at Gillette Stadium for the rest of the 2020 season due to the continued risk of COVID-19.
Newton said it was “extremely” disappointing to hear the announcement, elaborating on his perspective.
“I’m an energy, vibrant type of person,” he said. “I’m not going to sit up here and say some of the outcomes of this year would’ve been different with fans because I know I had couple of reasons to have some boo-birds, but for a person to understand and to have played this game for so long in one specific environment, you feed off of the energy in the stadium.
“The momentum has been kind of watered down or lessened for that reason,” Newton continued, “because when you do score, the energy of the team, you have to generate it on the sideline, when normally home-field advantage is what it says: home-field advantage. You start getting the energy of the crowd and the fans kind of rejuvenate you in times that you need to bounce back.
That said, Newton admitted the reason for fans not being allowed outweighs the lack of energy during games.
“It’s extremely disappointing, but at the end of the day it’s for a great cause in knowing that it keeps people safe and I think that’s what’s most important.”
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