It’s only two games … it’s only two games … it’s only two games.
That’s the mantra for Cam Newton and his fans, now that the Carolina Panthers quarterback has started his career in historic fashion. But it’s understandable if Newton finds himself occasionally humming an old rap hit:
“How Ya Like Me Now.”
Unlike Kool Moe Dee, Newton wouldn’t have LL Cool J in mind. Instead, Newton’s target would be the bevy of critics who questioned everything about him before he became the No. 1 overall draft pick in April.
They questioned his smile and his sincerity. They questioned his intelligence and his integrity. They questioned his accuracy and his accountability. One pundit envisioned a scenario in which Newton would fall to the 10th pick — or as low as the 25th — if the Panthers passed.
But Carolina selected him and then named him the starter after a lackluster preseason, in which Newton looked every bit the rookie quarterback from a run-oriented college offense. If he couldn’t shine in exhibitions (24-of-57 for 300 yards and one touchdown), when defenses keep it simple, how in the world could he excel once the games counted?
He wouldn’t — according to another pundit who ranked Newton 31st among the NFL’s 32 starting QBs.
Well, Newton has shown them all. In Week 1, he set the NFL record for most yards passing in a rookie’s debut (422 yards). He followed up Sunday, setting the NFL record for most yards passing by a rookie, period (432 yards). That makes him the first player to begin his career with consecutive 400-yard passing games. He held another record — most yards passing by any quarterback through two games — before New England’s Tom Brady broke it a few hours later.
The eye-opening performance has made Newton one of the NFL’s best stories thus far, not to mention one of the biggest surprises. No one expected him to be mentioned in the same sentence with Brady, a three-time Super Bowl winner, so soon.