The game's controversial ending shouldn't obscure how great Newton was in the win. He played exceptionally all night, never more so than on his 14-yard scramble during Carolina's third-quarter touchdown drive.
So how'd he do it? Let's take a closer look in seven parts:
- Newton retreats, gathers himself, then plants his right foot on his own 21. He's met by outside linebacker Dont'a Hightower and the high-motored Ninkovich, who's back on his feet and again closing in.
- Newton begins to dart between Hightower and Ninkovich, then pulls back and instantly changes direction, a juke that nearly knocks Hightower off his feet. Ninkovich is also thrown off-balance by the Barry Sanders-like move performed by a man built like a power forward.
- Now Newton finds some daylight. He accelerates around the left end as offensive tackle Jordan Gross seals off and finally takes the Jason Voorhees-like Ninkovich out of the play.
- Newton easily outruns defensive tackle Chris Jones (nice try, big boy) and gets back to the line of scrimmage. It takes him almost 11 seconds to return to the spot where the ball was snapped.
- Newton smells glory now. He cuts back toward the middle of the field, crossing the first-down marker before getting caught from behind by a resilient Hightower, originally left in the dust 28 yards earlier. It's a 14-yard gain and a fresh set of downs. The mind of every "Monday Night Football" viewer is blown from the back of their heads.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Newton eluded six defenders and covered 75.8 yards on the play. Jake Delhomme could not do this.