Cam Newton has faced a healthy amount of criticism since the Panthers' Super Bowl 50 loss, from his play in the game to how he carried himself after. On Tuesday, he addressed another aspect of Sunday that didn't sit well with some.
With the Panthers trailing by six points with less than five minutes to play, Newton took a shotgun snap on third-and-9 and was hit by Broncos linebacker Von Miller, knocking the ball to the turf. Newton opted not to dive for the loose ball, which was eventually recovered by Denver. The turnover and subsequent touchdown essentially ended the game.
Should Newton have thrown himself into the carnage in an effort to save the Panthers' season. Newton has no regrets.
"I didn't get the fumble, but we can play tit for tat," Newton said at his locker on Tuesday. "I've seen numerous quarterbacks throw interceptions and the effort afterwards they don't go. I don't dive on one fumble because the way my leg was, it could have been contorted in a way.
"OK, you say my effort? I didn't dive down. I fumbled -- that's fine. But at the end of the day, we didn't lose that game because of that fumble. I can tell you that. So, you can condemn and say, 'Well, he gave up. He did this, that and the third', but hey as long as my teammates know, as long as my coaches know, as long as anybody that's following this team knows."
Panthers coach Ron Rivera was asked about the play and whether he had discussed it with his quarterback.
"I haven't talked to him about that. I really haven't. And if that's his explanation, then that's his explanation."
Rivera then cut off a follow-up question on the matter.
"I'm OK with his explanation. I'm not going to worry about that. It's over, it's done and we are going off to the 2016 season."
If Newton sells out and recovers the fumble, the Panthers keep the ball and it's about fourth-and-16. They'd almost certainly punt it away, hope for another quick stop and play for one more possession down six. When Carolina couldn't fall on the ball, the game was over.