Unfortunately, that wasn't the case last night's Pro Bowl. Newton put up abominable numbers, completing 9-of-27 passes for 186 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions in the AFC's 59-41 victory over the NFC.
Newton looked a lot like he looked in the preseason a few months ago. His accuracy was below average, overthrowing his receivers on numerous occasions. Newton's two touchdown passes came on long throws – one 55-yarder to teammate Steve Smith and one 36-yarder to Larry Fitzgerald. Overall, Newton's quarterback rating was 43.7. The lowest rating from the five other quarterbacks that played was 101.3 (Ben Roethlisberger).
But, the real question here – is this atrocious showing a big deal? Could it potentially be foreshadowing of an imminent sophomore slump? In a word, no. This takes nothing away from Cam's outstanding, record-breaking rookie season. First of all, the players have no incentive to play hard. The Pro Bowl is more of a spectacle than anything else – unlike the MLB All-Star game or the NASCAR All-Star Race. Second of all, he was thrown into a situation where he was expected to learn a playbook in a very short amount of time with players that he mostly has no chemistry with.
The bottom line: It's important to take the Pro Bowl for what it's worth. It's a game with zero implications and minimal effort by the players. There is no reason whatsoever to be alarmed by Newton's performance.
Like Cam said earlier in the week, "I wouldn't even want to be in this game, to keep it real frank and brash…hopefully I'll be playing for the right to be playing in the game next week (Super Bowl).
Other Notes: Newton's performance (or lack thereof) seemed to overshadow the stellar outing by his teammate, Steve Smith, who led the NFC in receiving yards with 118.
The Panthers also altered its logo for the first time in franchise history. It was touched up a little bit to add a more contemporary, three-dimensional look. You can check it out at here: New Panthers logo unveiled
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