DENVER -- Cam Newton didn’t walk out on his news conference this time.
The Carolina Panthers quarterback answered every question following Thursday night’s 21-20 loss to the Denver Broncos, from what he thought about the no-calls on several helmet-to-helmet hits to why he was flossing his teeth on the sideline in the second half.
He did it without the scowl he had after the 24-10 loss to the same Broncos in Super Bowl 50, where he did walk out on the postgame news conference. He actually smiled a couple of times in this one.
When asked if he felt different after the beating he took in this game than others, the NFL MVP was brutally honest.
"I feel sh--ty," Newton said.
But Newton didn’t feel that way because of all the hits he took. He felt that way because he doesn’t like to lose.
"I know you guys are anticipating so much," Newton said. "I’m trying my best to keep it together. I knew that this was going to happen from the media standpoint, knowing how Cam would react to the media.
"The truth of the matter is, the Denver Broncos are the defending champs for a reason. We came in and had opportunities to put them away and we didn’t."
The Panthers failed for many of the same reasons they lost Super Bowl 50. They couldn’t handle the Denver blitz, which kept Newton and the offense from getting the rhythm it had much of last season in leading the NFL in scoring.
Newton took the brunt of that. He was pressured 14 times, nine in the second half, tied for the fifth-most pressures in his career. He was 3-for-10 passing for 24 yards when under duress, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Fortunately for Newton and the Panthers, they don’t face Denver’s blitz every week. Newton might not make it through the season if they did.
In three games against Denver, Newton has been pressured 52 times. That’s an average of 17.3 pressures per game.
Newton averages only 8.9 pressures per game against all other opponents.
So he gets hit a lot by the Broncos.
And this doesn’t count all the times Newton gets hit while throwing or rushing.
But what should be noted here is Newton didn’t complain about it even though some of his teammates did -- at least in terms of the helmet-to-helmet hits.
Newton called it a physical game, and Newton doesn’t mind physical. He considers himself a football player, not simply a quarterback, and football is a physical game.
But several of the hits Newton took in this one were bone-crushingly hard. One left Newton on the ground for a short period as he gathered himself.
The last hit to the helmet had him answering questions afterward to see if he needed to be in the concussion protocol. He didn’t.
But the Panthers have to find a better way to protect Newton if they hope to get back to the Super Bowl. If other teams pick up on what Denver has done in the past two games, it could be trouble.
Newton understands that.
He also understands his getting hit in the helmet at least four times didn’t cost Carolina the win that coach Ron Rivera hoped would jump-start the season.
While teammates pointed a finger at the officials for not protecting Newton, the quarterback pointed the finger at himself for not doing a better job.
That should pay dividends down the road because Newton isn’t going to let this one eat at him like the Super Bowl did.
"We just have to find ways to move the ball and not stay so stagnant for a long period of time," Newton said. "We all have jobs to do, including the refs. We have to do our jobs better and find ways to win football games."
And oh, as for why he was flossing, Newton said, "I was eating oranges at halftime."
Then he walked away.