Cam Newton claims the attitude is changing in Carolina.
The 2nd-year QB said there is a new swagger and confidence permeating the organization – and the fans eventually got an opportunity to see it.
Newton threw for 253 yards and ran for a career-high 71 yards to steer the Panthers to a 35-27 win over New Orleans, leaving the NFC South champ Saints 0-2 for the 1st time since 2007.
”The vibe is changing,” Newton claimed, ”not only this team, but the entire organization. With this organization I think the fans are building too. Today we found out so much about ourselves. Our potential is through the roof.”
Newton said it’s now a matter of the Panthers realizing that promise.
Carolina’s offense, which finished 5th in the league in scoring last season, finally got clicking and the defense played well for the 2nd straight week, intercepting Drew Brees twice. Baseball spreads
It was Carolina’s 1st win over New Orleans Saints since 2009.
”Times change,” WR Steve Smith related with a grin.
Coach Ron Rivera asserted a loss to Brees and the Saints would’ve been tough to take, especially with a tough game coming up Thursday night against the Super Bowl champion Giants.
”The way we responded as a team this week was outstanding,” Rivera expounded. ”I think the attitude, the effort was great.”
The Panthers (1-1) tied a club record last week with 10 yards rushing in a loss to Buccaneers in the season opener.
They had no such problems moving the ball against the Saints. They got the running game going in the 2nd quarter and rolled up 219 yards on the ground and 463 overall.
Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert all scored on short touchdown runs, and Smith overcame a sore knee to complete with 104 yards receiving – the 39th 100-yard receiving game of his career.
Jonathan Stewart pulled in a 17-yard touchdown catch for the Panthers and Brandon LaFell had 6 catches for 90 yards.
Newton kept the Saints off balance all day, running 8 times for 66 yards in the 1st half as coordinator Rob Chudzinski used a variety of plays that allowed Carolina to take a 21-13 halftime lead.
”You do read option, read option, read option and then get them to play 7 or 8 in the box and you have got so many variances of plays and passes you can run off that,” Newton declared.
When the Saints started to figure things out, Newton would find open receivers who beat one-on-one matchups on the outside.
On one 2nd-half play there wasn’t a defender inside 20 yards of Smith when he dragged in a pass from Newton along the right sideline and raced 66 yards before being dragged down.
”I was shocked just as much as anybody,” Newton said. ”Of all the people on this field to be wide open, you would think Smitty would be the final person. But that’s what type of pressure the zone read gives us.”