It took Cam Newton nearly an hour to show up for his postgame interview after the Carolina Panthers’ fourth straight loss Sunday. He was in a much bigger hurry once he got there, walking out after 90 seconds of terse, sullen responses.
If there was any good news for the defending NFC champion Panthers (1-5), Newton resembled his old self during — and after — a 41-38 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Back from a concussion that sidelined him for a week, he rallied Carolina from a 21-0 deficit to tie the score in the fourth quarter. But he had a hard time handling the frustration of another tough defeat.
“We just have to find ways to win football games,” he said.
He did his best to reverse the slide, throwing for 322 yards and two touchdowns. He then ran 2 yards to bring the Panthers within 38-36 with 2:58 remaining before connecting with Devin Funchess on a tying 2-point conversion.
But he had to watch from the sideline as Drew Brees, who threw for 465 yards, guided the Saints to a winning 52-yard field goal with 11 seconds left.
“He (Newton) did great,” said tight end Greg Olsen, who had a team-high 94 yards on six catches. “We scored 38 points and should have had 50.”
Aside from acknowledging a miscommunication on an interception he threw in the end zone when the Panthers trailed 21-0, Newton was in no mood to talk, He answered eight questions with a total of 51 words and responded to several inquiries by saying, “Next question.”
Teammates spoke for him.
“He’s a warrior,” said tight end Ed Dickson, who caught Newton’s second touchdown pass. “Whenever No. 1 is on the field, we have a chance to win.”
Newton, who returned to practice on Wednesday and was cleared to play Saturday, ran only twice but completed several passes when he scrambled out of the pocket.
“Cam was not limited at all in his mobility,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “He made some really good decisions. When you score 38 points, you need to give yourself more of a chance to win.”
Heading into their bye week, the Panthers are running out of chances to turn around their season. Although Newton played well, Carolina bore little resemblance to the team that won its first 14 games of 2015 on the way to the Super Bowl.
“This is not the team from last year,” wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. said. “That’s what everybody was expecting, but it’s not. We’re still finding ourselves.”