Strictly by the numbers, Cam Newton had the best playoff game of his young career Sunday in a loss to the Saints:
105.1 QB Rating
No turnovers, on the road as a big underdog (6.5) against a team the Panthers had lost to twice. This was an impressive game.
Because people like to argue on the internet, some will say that Cam Newton was actually better in the NFC Championship game against the Cardinals. Cam rushed for two TDs and passed for 2 TDs in a blowout win. But that game was at home, when the Panthers were favored, and it was during Cam’s MVP season.
Quibble over the two performances all you want, but Newton was great Sunday. The problem?
His playoff record fell to 3-4 and people are going to see that and make judgements even though QB records shouldn’t matter.
Remember how Peyton Manning’s postseason record dogged him in Indianapolis – when they almost always lost to the Patriots – and then in Denver? At one point, after Manning lost that overtime game to Baltimore at home in January of 2013 – and he threw two interceptions, including one in overtime – his playoff record fell to 9-11.
Here’s why QB records are deceptive: Manning won the final three playoff games he played as the Broncos won the Super Bowl. In that postseason, Manning completed 55% of his passes, threw just two TDs and had one INT. So did Manning “win” those games? Or did the Denver defense?
Manning finished his career with a 14-13 playoff record. It shouldn’t impact his legacy – he was a Top 5 QB in NFL history – even though he’s far behind Joe Montana’s 16-7, Troy Aikman’s 11-5, John Elway’s 14-7 and even Ben Roethlisberger’s 13-7.
All of this is to say that Cam Newton’s career is a difficult one to characterize. He’s only 28, but after seven seasons, he’s still woefully inconsistent. When he’s throwing into tiny windows – like vs. the Saints – he’s elite. When he’s missing receivers short and deep and spraying interceptions all over the field – like last week vs the Falcons – he’s difficult to watch.