Fast-forward. The team finally has a superstar, arguably its first. The franchise demanded that Cam Newton become a star. He was a Heisman winner who wasn’t Chris Weinke, a proven champion who was supposed to finally bring consistency to a woefully unreliable team.
Newton arrived in the NFL with an expectation things would come naturally and was humbled 19 times as the Panthers had back-to-back losing seasons. The young quarterback came under fire for his demeanor, his attitude and his towel.
Osmosis was supposed to pull success from Newton into the Panthers, but playing for this team leached it from him instead. Slowly, the ultra-competitive quarterback began to become complacent, the player that seethed and abhorred losing fell into the well-worn treadmill of stock statements and media placation. Carolina was once again soulless, and it felt like there was no lack of urgency starting with head coach Ron Rivera.
Morris carried the ball just nine times in the second half, erasing Washington’s good first half tendencies and reverting to bad habits. Unable to control the clock the team faltered, while the Vikings had less success on the ground, but they better understood that making Adrian Peterson the focal point would give them success.
It was a Jekyll and Hyde performance from the Colts. The team’s defense allowed two rushing touchdowns from Chris Johnson in the first quarter while struggling on offense. Protection wasn’t there for Luck, and he was routinely pressured, which killed the deep passing game. Trent Richardson wasn’t able to run, receivers weren’t getting open and even turning to trick plays was ineffective.