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Cam Newton inconsistent in Panthers’ loss to Redskins

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) scrambles with the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Even after blaming pressure and contact to his throwing arm for a costly interception in the first half, Cam Newton had the game on his shoulders in the final minute.

Newton led the Carolina Panthers downfield and into the red zone before three consecutive incompletions ended their hopes in a 23-17 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday. It was a sour ending to an inconsistent day for Newton, who had two touchdown passes but also a costly interception , an almost fumble, and enough off-target passes to cost Carolina (3-2).

“You have games and days like that,” said Newton, who was 27 of 40 for 275 yards passing. “My days of sobbing are over with. I’m excited for what the future holds. I hope we get to see this team again.”

A chance to see the Redskins (3-2) again wouldn’t come until the playoffs, and it’s on Newton to get the Panthers there. He showed flashes of that potential at Washington, connecting on five passes, including a TD to Devin Funchess and executing a near-flawless scoring drive early in the fourth quarter.

But Newton also needed a heads-up catch from left guard Greg Van Roten to avoid a potential fumble, and then gifted former teammate Josh Norman his first interception since 2016 when he lofted up a pass early in the second quarter.

“You just got to protect the football better, and it starts with me,” Newton said. “Felt like we got everything and I just got pushed in the pocket and still tried to force it.”

Despite up-and-down play, Newton had second-and-5 from the Washington 16-yard line with 47 seconds left and the chance to rally the Panthers to tie the biggest comeback in franchise history. He threw incomplete in the end zone to Christian McCaffrey and Funchess, and then couldn’t find Jarius Wright on a shorter route on fourth down.

“We had some opportunities,” coach Ron Rivera said. “You make your breaks, and we didn’t get any breaks on those.”

Newton was Carolina’s leading rusher with 43 yards on nine carries, including a 15-yard scamper untouched up the middle. He had some room to run on the final drive but opted to pass each time.

“It’s hard to run the football when you’re only getting — we just call the plays, we try to execute the plays the coaches call,” Newton said. “I feel extremely confident in (offensive coordinator Norv Turner) and the play selection that he has had up until this point, and don’t plan on it changing.”

NOTES: Rookie D.J. Moore fumbled on a punt return, setting up the Redskins’ first touchdown, and later after making one of his four catches. Asked about trying to make plays and hold on to the ball, the former Maryland receiver said: “It’s a real fine line. You got to do all of that at once and I didn’t do a good job of that.” … TE Greg Olsen had four catches for 48 yards in his return after missing three games with a broken right foot.

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