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Patriots quarterback Cam Newton after getting benched against the 49ers: ‘It’s simple. I have to play better.’

Related: Is Cam Newton still the Patriots’ starting quarterback? ‘Yeah, absolutely,’ says Bill Belichick

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton had one of the worst performances of his career in Sunday’s 33-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Newton was benched in favor of backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham in the fourth quarter and knows he has to turn things around quickly - or his job could be in danger.

“The first thing I said to myself coming home is, ‘If you keep playing games like that, bro, and it’s going to be a permanent change,’” Newton said on WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show on Monday morning. “So whatever type of way that we have to motivate ourselves, I’m honest with myself so that leaves no type of miscommunication with others, and when the change happened, I’m stuck on the sideline listening to plays and saying to myself, ‘Like listen, is this really how you want to do things? Is this how you want things to be done?’

“Until you make the step to get better as you have been harping on these last couple weeks, then that’s what it’s going to be.”

Newton completed just 9-of-15 passes for a measly 98 yards and three interceptions. Bill Belichick explained he went with Stidham in the fourth to give the second-year quarterback more experience. When asked if he was surprised about the move, Newton was not.

“For any type of competitor, do you feel embarrassed? Yeah,” Newton said during his weekly radio interview. “I don’t feel offended by what was done. I don’t feel offended having this type of conversation.

“I’m a realist, but yet through it all I am coachable. I didn’t want to put up a [stink]. How bad would that have been? ‘I’m not coming out.’ That would have been embarrassing. [Bill Belichick] came and said, ‘Stidham is finishing’ and I agreed. That’s what it was.”

Belichick did note that Newton will “absolutely” be the starter going forward, but Newton knows his play needs to improve. After a shaky stretch of games, Newton explained he felt like he was pressing too much, but denied that he was nervous or scared on the field.

“Nervous? No. Scared? Absolutely not,” the quarterback said. “Thinking? Now that’s something I could probably finger-point [as an issue]. But yet, there’s no need to feel any type of way besides accepting all challenges and I have to get better and I’m adamant about it.

“It’s simple. I have to play better. Let’s just point and say that. I’m a big boy. … At the end of the day, I’m looking at this person in the mirror and saying OK, let’s figure this out. I’ve been here before. Unfortunately and fortunately, so through it all, I cannot sit up there and expect something from somebody else that I’m not giving myself. ... I don’t think we’re a six-point offense. If anybody is a competitor, they take it personal. Which I do.”

When asked if his recent struggles could be chalked up to Covid-19-related “fog”, which kept him out of the facility for two weeks, Newton said: “No. My goodness. I’m hearing a lot of ‘what it could be.’ It’s simple. I have to play better.”

After losing three straight games, the Patriots now sit in third place in the AFC East at 2-4, but Newton still sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I know I am better that what I am putting on film. And that’s simple,” he said. “I accept any type of personal blaming and dealings and I know there’s light at the end of the tunnel. You cannot get to three and four wins without getting to one win and that’s everything that we’re worried about.

“At this particular point I am not caring about what any other team does as I haven’t. It’s just about us. It’s about how we react and how we play physical, it’s about how we play mistake free and if we do that we still haven’t seen that game. Until we do that is when you attract the right things to your team.”

Playing mistake free football will be an area of focus for New England and Newton going forward. Patriot quarterbacks lead the NFL with 11 interceptions on the season, seven of those coming from Newton himself. Newton still believes the Patriots’ have the weapons needed to win, he just needs to take care of the ball.

“It’s kind of like that theory when you think about something too much, then that’s when it really happens the most and from day one of being here, the keys to win have always been to protect the football,” Newton said. “And here I am, we as an offensive have yet to play a turnover-free game. That is the key to win. …

“I am not reacting faster and it’s affecting the tempo of how I play, but I have nobody to blame. I don’t want to blame nobody, it’s just all on me to get in a comfort state to kind of be productive.”

The Patriots will now turn their attention to Week 8, where an important divisional matchup with the Buffalo Bills awaits.

“There’s no motivating speech, there’s nothing that needs to be done besides accepting the challenge and accept where we are and just get better from it,” Newton said.

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