Photo: AP Images
One year and one week after he started his first game for the Auburn Tigers, Cam Newton made his NFL debut, and he made it a memorable one.After a whirlwind year in which Cam Newton was investigated by the NCAA, led Auburn to the National Championship, won the Heisman Trophy, and was picked at the top of the NFL draft, Newton started his first game with the Carolina Panthers.
After completing just 42.1 per cent of his passes in the preseason, most assumed that Newton would go through some growing pains early in the season. Boy were they wrong.
Against the Arizona Cardinals, Newton completed 24 of 37 passes for 422 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The 422 yards is the eye-opening number, a feat that put Newton into some rare company…
- Newton is just the fifth quarterback ever to throw for 300 yards in his pro debut. Newton broke the record of Ed Rubbert (334 yards) a replacement player for the Redskins in 1987.
- The seventh player since the AFL-NFL merger (1970) to throw for 400 yards in his team’s first game of the season.
- Joins Peyton Manning (302 yards) as the only quarterbacks since 1960 to throw for 300 yards in their first game as a pro.
- The sixth rookie since 1970 to throw for 400 yards in a single game. The most recent was Matt Leinart (405 yards) for the Cardinals in 2006. Marc Bulger holds the rookie record, with 453 yards for the Rams in 2002.
- At 22 years and 123 days, Newton is just the sixth quarterback under the age of 23 to throw for 400 yards in the Super Bowl era. The only player younger than Newton was Matthew Stafford of the Lions with 422 yards at 21 years and 288 days.
That is one heck of a debut for a player that many questioned his status as the top pick in the NFL draft.
So what does he do for an encore? Well, he can start with a win. But that won’t be easy as the Green Bay Packers come calling next weekend.
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