"I want to thank the man upstairs," Newton said.
The first Panther to win the award, Newton received 47 votes to three for Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton. The awards were presented on the "NFL Honors" primetime special Saturday night on NBC.
Newton set an NFL record for touchdowns rushing in a season by a quarterback with 14 and became the first player in league history to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 500. He helped Carolina improve from 2-14 to 6-10, throwing for 21 touchdowns.
It's still a learning process for me. I mean, I learned so much the entire season. I can do so many things better. I have so much respect for this league that a lot of people don't understand what it takes to be a player in the National Football League, let alone the quarterback."
"He set a standard, a very high standard, for any rookie quarterback coming in, and he wants to improve," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said. "He's gotten better in so many different areas. ... He's really taken his game to next level, and there's so much room for him to grow. He's got such a high ceiling."
AP sports writer Steve Reed in Charlotte, N.C., also contributed to this report.