Cam Newton and the Patriots dominated in all forms from the very start of their 45-0 win over the Chargers on Sunday.
Newton got the Patriots going on the game’s opening possession, leading the offense on a 13-play, 75-yard drive which resulted in Newton taking a one-yard QB sneak in for a touchdown.
Scoring on the opening drive, something the Patriots have done just twice this season, was one of the Patriots’ checkmarks this week, according to Newton. Once that checkmark was it, it made the other checkmarks easier to hit.
“It was the right way we wanted to start the game,” Newton said. “We had that as a key to victory this week, and I think we pretty much hit most of them. Not only scoring on our first possession in the first half, but also in the second half as well. Major kudos to the offense with that. More or less, it was set up by a great defensive performance with having great field position the whole game. We just wanted to maximize it throughout the whole game.”
One of the key plays of the opening possession came on the 10th play of the drive. On fourth-and-2, the Patriots could have easily taken the points and gone for the field goal as they were at the Chargers’ 12-yard line. Instead, the Patriots put the ball in Newton’s hands. He rushed the ball up the middle and got right at the marker for a first down.
Newton felt it was his duty to step up and make a play in that moment.
“That was big,” Newton said of the decision to go for it.”It’s up to us as an offense to not blink. For us to have that confidence from our coaches, it just speaks volumes. If they believe in us that much we’ve got to uphold our end of the bargain.”
Newton’s legs were featured a lot on the Patriots’ opening drive. He had four rushes for 22 yards to start the game and ended with 14 rushes for 48 yards plus two rushing touchdowns. Running back Damien Harris credited Newton for helping to set the tone with his running. Newton described what his running style is like.
“Be the hammer, not the nail,” Newton said. “God has blessed me with the stature that I have. Any time I have the opportunity to create some type of force or momentum, then I’m going to do it. At the same time, I have to be cognizant of the position that I play, and if I need to get down then I’ll get down.”
The Patriots got good contributions from a couple of their wide receivers today. N’Keal Harry, who has struggled for much of his career since being drafted by the Patriots in the first round of the 2019 draft, caught just his second touchdown of the season when Newton connected with him in the third quarter.
Newton seemed proud of Harry for making the play on a throw he didn’t like.
“Say what you want, but it’s just a way for him to get his confidence up with a big play on his part,” Newton said. “I wouldn’t say it was the best pass, but for him to play as big as he’s been playing, I think we’re going to need that from him now more than ever.”
— NFL (@NFL) December 6, 2020
The other Patriots receiver to have a big day was Gunner Olszewski. The young receiver had a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown, a 61-yard punt return, and a 38-yard touchdown reception from Jarrett Stidham. Newton believes that Olszewski should win both the Offensive Player and Special Teams Player of the Week awards. In addition to the punt return touchdown, the Patriots scored a touchdown on a blocked field goal at the end of the first half.
“Any time we get an opportunity to get big plays from the special teams, the numbers tilt more in your favor to win,” Newton said. “Today, we got multiple plays from our special teams and it impacted the game in ways we wanted to impact it. From Gunner making great decisions, making plays in the return game to guys just selling out on the field goal, we’re going to keep needing that more and more as this season keeps going the way it’s going.”
Sunday’s win marks the Patriots’ fourth victory in five games. At this time in November, the Patriots were on a four-game losing streak, with Newton getting yanked after a poor performance in one of those losses.
While the Patriots are trending in the right direction after a dominant performance, Newton understands he still has to get better after throwing for just 69 yards Sunday.
“You still have a long way to go, and there’s still some things I feel like I could’ve gotten better at and I need to get better at,” Newton said. “But each and every day for me, and I’ve always said it, is just learning – learning into this offense and gaining the trust of the coaching staff to be able to go for it on fourth down. To be able to put the ball in the air. To be able to gain confidence from the coaching staff in calling plays, whatever it may be, from trick plays, regular plays, run plays, pass plays, no plays, whatever it may be. That’s what the standard is for me and I just need to keep growing from it.”
The Patriots now sit at 6-6. The playoffs, which seemed like a farfetched dream just a few weeks ago, seems like a possible reality entering the season’s final four games. Newton isn’t looking ahead to any possible playoff scenarios and just wants to go “one game at a time,” starting with the Rams on Thursday.
“We understand what position we are in,” Newton said. “Everything is pretty much is in front of us. We’ve just got to really hone in and focus on the opponents we have to face that week and maximize each and every opportunity that we do good. I think if we keep that going on, we’ll be in good graces.”
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