By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Cam Newton wants nothing more than for the Patriots’ coaching staff to trust him with the ball in his hands.
Cam Newton knows that careless mistakes like the one he made on the final Patriots drive of Sunday’s loss in Buffalo will go a long way toward breaking down that trust.
“It’s unacceptable. I’ve gotta protect the ball better,” Newton said when asked about his fumble at the Buffalo 14-yard line, when the Patriots trailed by just three points in the final minutes of Sunday’s 24-21 loss to Buffalo. “It affects me more that I still am jeopardizing this team’s success, because of my lackluster performance of protecting the football. So, you know, Coach trusts me with the ball in my hands and I wouldn’t want it any other way. And I just have to do a better job of protecting it.”
On the play in question, Newton did not have a lane to the end zone by any stretch of the imagination, so a game-winning touchdown was not in the cards. Likewise, the Patriots had two timeouts, so Newton didn’t need to have his mind on getting out of bounds or potentially hurrying to the line or anything of the sort. The team was also well within Nick Folk’s range, so there was no great need for Newton to make any over-the-top effort to gain every last yard on the run.
The one and only priority of a ball carrier in that situation is to protect the football at all costs. Newton simply did not.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) November 1, 2020
Newton was asked why he didn’t move the ball to his left hand as he ran toward the left sideline, and he said it was a matter of comfort.
“In that situation with the game on the line, I’m dominantly right-handed, so prior to me putting the ball in my left hand — which is my weakest arm — I just felt more comfortable with the ball in my right hand,” Newton explained. “I usually always tend to roll with my right hand, just for comfort.”
Interestingly enough, Newton had just gotten away with some risky ball carrying, when he scampered for 19 yards through the middle of the Buffalo defense while failing to keep the ball protected.
Five plays before the fumble, when Cam Newton broke one open for a 19-yard gain, I'm sure many of you were screaming at your TVs for the QB to protect the football. Got away with that one. Obviously not later. pic.twitter.com/JSTWCYGyJg
— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) November 1, 2020
Turnovers have been a major problem for the Patriots this season, and Newton has been the biggest driver of that problem. Though the quarterback didn’t add to his season total of seven interceptions on Sunday, he did lose the fumble to give him eight of the Patriots’ 15 giveaways this season.
Yet the fact that Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham threw a combined four interceptions on their 47 passes thus far in the season likely helps Bill Belichick when it comes to sticking with Newton under center.
“Cam’s our quarterback,” Belichick said. “That’s the way it’s been all year.”
Protecting the football was a major point of emphasis during the week. For 59 minutes, Newton and the Patriots followed that order well.
Despite beating himself up for the very costly mistake, Newton expressed a certain level of optimism when looking ahead.
“Coach preaches each and every day to protect the football, play smart football. And, you know, I’m converting to it — outside of this last play,” said Newton. “And I think that’s what makes it just so frustrating in that you’re trying extremely hard, but at the end of the day when you don’t get the results that you want, then what do you do? So we just have to focus in, come back in to practice and just have our best week yet, and keep building from what we have.”