BOSTON (CBS) — If Sunday was Cam Newton’s final game in a Patriots uniform, the quarterback went out in style. Newton had one of his best games in a Patriots uniform in Week 17 against the Jets, throwing for three touchdowns while catching another in New England’s 28-14 victory.
Newton’s big day started on New England’s opening drive, when he led the Patriots on a seven-play, 84-yard scoring strike. He capped things off with a rare passing touchdown, hitting James White for a seven-yard score.
It was Newton’s first passing touchdown since Dec. 6, and just his sixth passing touchdown of the season to that point.
— NFL (@NFL) January 3, 2021
First quarter points were pretty rare for New England too. Entering Sunday’s game, the Patriots offense had scored just 31 points in the opening frame this season.
Newton’s legs were a big part of that opening drive as well, as he rattled off a 49-yard run on the fourth play of the drive. The scamper was the longest run by a quarterback in Patriots history, and it also gave Newton the new record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season, passing the 539 rushing yards by Steve Grogan in 1978.
That touchdown pass was not the only highlight from Newton on Sunday. Not by a longshot.
The quarterback added a touchdown reception to his box score in the third quarter, catching a 19-yard touchdown from receiver Jakobi Meyers to tie the game at 14-14. It was the first touchdown reception of his career.
QB Cam Newton turns into WR Cam Newton on this touchdown.pic.twitter.com/Uzs6QUau5i
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) January 3, 2021
Newton is just the fifth player in Patriots franchise history with a passing, rushing and receiving touchdown all in the same season. David Patten was the last player to accomplish that feat back in 2001, and he notched all three in the same game.
Newton was responsible for four touchdowns in Sunday’s win. He finished with three touchdown passes and zero turnovers, completing 21 of his 30 passes for 242 yards.
“We played this game to win, but our season is done,” Newton said after the win. “We have the talent in that locker room to still be playing for a playoff berth and making a deep run. That is the realization of things; you know what we could possibly do and what we’re capable of, we just didn’t show it enough this year. Through it all, we did finish strong today.”
It only took until Week 17, but Sunday was Newton’s first game with multiple passing touchdowns this season. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick praised Newton’s performance on Sunday, and his leadership overall throughout the season.
“He had a great week this week and came in with a lot of energy. He did a great job in practice executing the game plan and getting things right,” said Belichick. “We made some adjustment, made some in-game adjustments, and overall, we did a pretty good job with it.
“From a team standpoint, I wish we could have performed, collectively, a bit better throughout the season. But coming into today, it was what it was,” added Belichick. “We were 6-9 and all we could do coming into today was be 7-9. It doesn’t erase anything we did in other games this year, but nothing but respect for Cam with what he has done here.”
Earlier Sunday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Patriots and Newton would likely be parting ways after the season. While his one season in New England was a bit of a mess, Newton went out on a high note.