BOSTON (CBS) — Cam Newton was in the middle of his postgame video conference with Patriots reporters on Sunday when his eyes darted away from the camera and a wide smile beamed across his face. Newton let out a muted impression of teammate Matthew Slater, which prompted a reporter to ask Newton about the longtime special teams captain.

Newton may have been wearing sunglasses, but it was still clear that his eyes lit up when given the opportunity to speak about Slater. But first, he had to correct the reporter on the name.

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“That’s the Honorable Matthew Slater,” Newton said. “He does a great job with speaking. He speaks to the team after all the wins, and losses. But I just, he … he has a talent, man. And when you got leaders like that on your team, it’s no wonder he’s been able to be so impactful for this organization as long as he has. He’s just such a positive role model and a person that I admire and look up to from afar. And he just holds himself to such a high standard.”

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Newton was speaking after one of the best special teams performances in Patriots history. Gunner Olszewski returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown, and returned another punt 61 yards. Cody Davis blocked a field goal, and Devin McCourty returned it for a touchdown. It was just the third time in the regular season that the Patriots have scored two special teams touchdowns in a game under Bill Belichick, and the Patriots became just the sixth team in NFL history to score on a punt return and a blocked field goal in the same game.

Slater was, as usual, delivering blocks, covering punts and helping to limit the Chargers to a 21-yard average on kick returns, all while being the emotional leader he’s been basically since his arrival in New England in 2008. For most Patriots, Slater’s presence has long been a part of the fabric of the organization. But Newton’s fresh approach to all things Patriots had him feeling extra appreciative of the 35-year-old captain.

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“A lot of what the special teams, a lot of what this team is, is a direct indication of who Matthew Slater is,” Newton said. “And when you got men like that on your team, you know, the sky’s the limit.”

CBSBoston.com Staff