In the midst of a four game losing streak, things seemed to be headed south yet again for the New England Patriots. Trailing 20-10 at halftime against the winless New York Jets set up the stage for another disappointment. However, Josh McDaniels was not worried.
“First thing Josh McDaniels says — no arguing, no screaming, no yelling — at halftime, the first thing Josh McDaniels says to the offense is: ‘Hey, we’re going to win this game,’” Cam Newton said in his weekly appearance on WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show.
“And those words, that statement kind of put everything into perspective and registered a lot of things in everybody’s mind, I know it did for me,” Newton continued. “Just find a way.”
Finding a way is exactly what New England did, as they overcame the 10-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat the Jets 30-27 on a walk-off 51-yard field goal from Nick Folk. The win snapped New England’s losing streak, getting them back in the win column for the first time since Week 3.
“The most important statistic in all of sports — it’s not how many home runs you’ve hit, it’s not how many three-pointers you’ve made, it’s not how many touchdowns you’ve thrown or ran, or how many interceptions you’ve got — the most important statistic in all of sports is wins and losses,” Newton said. “I don’t care how you get it and people don’t care how you muffled it away. If we can get that week-in and week-out, I will take that important statistic over anything else.”
While winning is always the priority, some mentioned that it was worrisome that New England only beat the 0-8 Jets by three points. When asked to respond, Newton laughed at the tough crowd.
“Tough crowd,” Newton responded. “But for real, listen man, say what you want, this is the NFL. It’s not just a movie title, it is literally ‘Any Given Sunday’ and you have to bring your lunch pail each and every day and execute [like] we did. Now, did we keep the game relatively close in our opinion more than we wanted to? Absolutely. But games we’ve been in this year as a team, if you can manage those games to win and find ways to win it builds character and it builds team chemistry and it builds team confidence.
“… People can say whatever they want to say about our opponent that we’re playing, but this is going to come up again in a got-to-have-it situation and situational football where instead of guys being more tense in close games, we are able to still stay relaxed and be able to find ways to win because we have been in these situations so many times this year.”
Within the win, Newton played one of his best games of the season — completing 27-of-35 passes for 274 yards, with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He added 10 rushes for 16 yards and two touchdowns. Newton also did not commit a turnover for the first time since Week 1, as it was the first game this season the Patriots offense did not turn the ball over.
“I took it personally these last couple of weeks knowing that OK, we’re close,” Newton said. “I understand the routine that needs to be put in place for me to put this team in a position to even have a chance. For me to be dialed in and locked in, I want people to see that in this locker room and show, ‘Man, he’s here working. You don’t have to worry about Cam.’ I want to get to that point. I need to get to that point. Not only for the comfort of my teammates, but for the comfort for me.
“I know nobody cares and they are getting tired of hearing, ‘This offense is tough.’ Man, the hell with that. Now it’s time to do what you have to do to put yourself in a position to win. That is where I am at right now.”
Newton showed off a strong connection with former undrafted free agent Jakobi Meyers in the win. Meyers, who was celebrating his 24th birthday, hauled in 12-of-14 targets for a career high 169 yards. Newton elaborated on his relationship with Meyers on WEEI, explaining how proud he is of “MyGerms”.
“I’m extremely proud of Jakobi, man. MyGerms. He’s the person I’ve known the longest this whole ordeal,” Newton said. “I’ve known Jakobi when he was 16, 17 years old coming out of high school, and both of us being from the Greater Atlanta area. For him to be morphing into the player that he is today, it’s just hard work paying off for him...
“...Jakobi is a person I obviously took under my wing a long time ago. For us to have the same type of connection is just impactful for many reasons. ... For it to happen the way it’s happened, we’re just getting started, I believe. We have to keep working to get better and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Despite the strong game, Newton woke up this morning with quite the sore neck, thanks to a crushing blow by New York Jets safety Ashtyn Davis in the second quarter of Monday night’s win.
“My neck is only working on a degree angle that shuts off the degrees to one side. So my eye muscles are getting a lot of work in today,” Newton said on WEEI.
The play drew a questionable unnecessary roughness penalty, but Newton stayed in the game regardless. On WEEI, Newton admitted he held on to the ball too long and shared a conversation he later had with Josh McDaniels on the sideline.
“I was like ‘that’s my fault and I deserved it.’ But hey, it got us 15 yards, so shoot, it’s just the price you have to pay,” Newton said with a chuckle.
The win improves the Patriots to 3-5 on the season, moving them into a tie for 10th place in the AFC. When asked on The Greg Hill Show about those who are rooting for the Patriots to “tank” for a better draft pick, Newton was against the idea.
“Hell no. What are we doing? It’s a slogan and it’s an iconic quote that says, ‘You play to win the game.’ It’s simple,” he said. “Listen, we’re halfway through a season where everything that we want is in front of us. Come on now. For us, and I can’t speak for nobody else and I will not speak for nobody else, I can only speak for myself and I just know that when I said we’re close, we’re extremely close.
“We have to keep putting great practices [together] that is going to lead to in-game reality so we can be able to be comfortable after games knowing that we had a great week and we put everything together and it wasn’t perfect. We understand last night wasn’t perfect, but we had the opportunities and we made the most of them.”
The Patriots attention now turns towards next Sunday night when they welcome reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens (6-2) to Foxboro. Unfortunately, the game will again be held without fans, as Gillette Stadium announced last week they will conclude the 2020 season with no fans in attendance.
“Extremely,” Newton said when asked how disappointing the news was. “I’m an energy vibrant type of person... You feed off an energy in a stadium. The momentum has been watered down, or lessened, for that reason because when you do score, the energy of the team you only have to generate it on the sideline.
“Normally, home field advantage is, what is says: home field advantage. You starting getting the energy of the crowd and the fans rejuvenate you in times when you need to bounce back. It’s extremely disappointing but at the end of the day it’s a great cause and to keep people safe.”
With or without fans, Newton and the Patriots will need to be at their best against the Ravens Sunday night in order to keep their long-shot playoff hopes alive.
“We just have to keep building, and for us, to know that we’re in a position that the world will be watching one more time,” Newton said in the radio interview. “We have a great opportunity to get another one. That’s what we’re on the chase for.”
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