Peyton Manning didn't do it. Neither did Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Dan Marino, Joe Montana or any other NFL quarterback. Cam Newton has more passing yards than any rookie in NFL history, breaking the record that Manning set in 1998.
And Newton started from behind. Imagine what he might have done if the Carolina Panthers' offseason team workouts weren't wiped out by the NFL lockout.
Standing 6-foot-5, weighing 250 pounds and possessing a canon for an arm, Newton is unlike any quarterback we've ever seen. He's mobile in the pocket and shifty in the open field, fast enough to outrun some defenders and strong enough to run over others. He's on the verge of becoming the NFL's first quarterback with 4,000 yards passing and 700 yards rushing.
Sports Illustrated's Peter King wrote that "Cam Newton is on his way to the best rookie season ever. By any player." A post on Pro Football Talk, under the headline "Cam Newton Is Indestructible," said he's arguably already a top-10 NFL quarterback.
Newton broke Manning's record in Saturday's 48-16 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He threw three touchdown passes and scored on a breathtaking 49-yard run up the middle, displaying his speed by outracing smaller defensive backs to the end zone.
It was the latest "take that" to his numerous critics when he entered the NFL draft, who not only questioned his ability to grasp offenses and read defenses but also wondered about his leadership and character.
"There's always going to be something," Newton told reporters after Saturday's game. "I continuously try to do what I can control … I don't worry about what people say because you know one day you'll be on top of the world and everybody is praising you, and the next day the world will be on top of you and everybody else will be criticizing you."
Sometimes it's something as simple as body language. Two teammates suggested a change in that regard, and Newton happily made the adjustment.
As for the rookie passing record, Newton took it in stride. It goes with his record 14 rushing touchdowns, the most ever by any quarterback.
"It's very nice to do something with a record that's so prestigious in this league," he said before crediting his teammates and coaching staff for allowing him to break the mark.
Newton has a signature celebration when he scores touchdowns. He fake-clenches his jersey and pantomimes slowly ripping it apart in the middle, like Clark Kent tearing off his dress shirt to reveal the "S" on his chest.
The move is quite appropriate. Based on his level of play as a rookie, Newton really is Superman.