By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Throughout the summer and for the first few weeks of the season, everything was just peachy for Cam Newton and the New England Patriots.

Now in late October, things have soured quite a bit. That much was clear for the entirety of Week 6’s loss at home to Denver, and it continued in Week 7 at home against 49ers. And it really crystallized when Newton was benched after throwing his third interception against San Francisco.

Bill Belichick said after Sunday’s 33-6 loss that Newton would “absolutely” be the Patriots’ starting quarterback going forward. But the veteran quarterback understood that performances like the one he put forth on Sunday are not going to cut it for very long in the NFL.

“I wasn’t good enough. In no way, shape or form did I put this team in a position to compete. And that’s inexcusable,” Newton said after the loss. “I have to deliver, and I haven’t done that.”

His first interception came on New England’s third possession of the game. On a first-and-10 from the New England 27-yard line, Newton faked a handoff before standing in the pocket and scanning his options. Not seeing anyone open, he made a run for it. But before getting to the line of scrimmage, he spotted Jakobi Meyers and tried to fit in a pass to the receiver.

Newton threw the pass woefully short, throwing it directly at linebacker Fred Warner. The Niners’ defender hit the deck and picked off the pass at the New England 41-yard line.

The pick was merely the continuation of a stretch of play from Newton that has been difficult to watch. After he threw for just 157 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions against Denver, he started Sunday’s game vs. San Francisco by completing three of his six passes for 11 yards and the interception.

The Niners made this mistake hurt, too, by driving 38 yards for a touchdown to go up 16-3.

“It’s sad when you have to think about it,” he said when asked about that first interception. “I just lost him. I eyed Jakobi too much. I should have thrown it away. The decision making is inexcusable.”

On the Patriots’ next drive, Newton tried to complete a pass to Damiere Byrd on a third-and-4, but the quarterback skipped the ball well short of the receiver, leading to a Patriots punt.

Newton showed some encouraging signs on the Patriots’ final possession of the first half, throwing consecutive strikes to Meyers. The first one got called back due to offensive holding, but Newton delivered another bullet for a gain of 20 yards. The Patriots called timeout, thinking a scoring drive was in progress. Instead, Newton chucked a deep prayer, again to Meyers, who  had two defenders behind him. The prayer was not answered. Instead, it was intercepted as Meyers fell to the turf on a pass that had zero chance to be completed.

At halftime, Newton was 4-for-8 for 30 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He had just 12 rushing yards on three attempts. The Patriots had three points. The 49ers had 23.

It was ugly.

It only got worse, with Newton making a late decision to throw to Julian Edelman in the third quarter, leading to a tipped pass that was intercepted.

That pick ended Newton’s day, with his stat line looking like this: 9-for-15, 98 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs. Bill Belichick kept Newton on the bench, giving the rest of the quarterback reps to Jarrett Stidham (who was not any better).

“Very disappointed but we just have to be better,” Newton said after the game. “One thing that can’t happen, I can’t feel sorry for myself. I know what the issue is and you just have to attack it and do better.”

Newton said the issue is simple: “Not playing good.”

On the season, Newton now has just two touchdowns to go with seven interceptions. What looked not long ago to be the Bill Belichickian stroke of genius and good fortune has now turned into a rather miserable situation.

“The point of emphasis has been protecting the football, and when you do not protect the football you question a lot of things,” said Newton. “You come back to the drawing board, starting tomorrow, and I have full faith in the coaching staff. It’s just about player production.”

Entering the game with a 2-3 record, Sunday marked a rather significant game for New England. And with a full week of normal practice, the expectation was that last week’s offensive issues would be resolved for this one.

Instead, things only got worse.


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