Cam Newton makes another statement

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- This has been a week of statements for Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

On Wednesday, he opened his weekly press availability by announcing he wanted to make a statement, something he's never done. He said how great practice was and that he expected the preparation to lead to a great performance.

On Sunday, in a 38-0 dismantling of the New York Giants, Newton's legs and arm made a statement.

A loud one.

Newton completed 15 of 27 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns, capped by a perfect 47-yard strike to Ted Ginn Jr. early in the fourth quarter. He also rushed seven times for 45 yards and a touchdown.

Newton has had better days statistically. But with so much on the line, from the risk of being forgotten in an 0-3 start to the future of coach Ron Rivera, none was more clutch.

"His pocket presence, his calling ... we ran some checks depending on where the safeties were ... he was just good with everything,'' left tackle Jordan Gross said. "When he's hot, we're hot.''

Much had to do with offensive coordinator Mike Shula, who called a few more running plays for his quarterback than he did the first two weeks. But most of it had to with Newton, who set the tone on Carolina's second possession when he scrambled 14 yards for a first down.

From then on he had the Giants off balance.

"Cam played the type of game he is capable of,'' Rivera said.

Funny, afterwards nobody was questioning Newton's leadership for a change. Winning tends to take care of that.

Newton, to his credit, credited everyone but himself. That is the sign of a leader.

"This was a big team win today," he said, "and there's nothing more for me to really say."

Newton far outplayed his counterpart, two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning. That Newton didn't have to face a Carolina defense that registered seven sacks had something to do with that.

But what was encouraging for the Carolina offense was that the passing game didn't revolve around wide receiver Steve Smith. Brandon LaFell, who has held the position of No. 2 receiver even though his play hasn't warranted it, caught touchdown passes of 16 and 20 yards. Ginn caught three passes for 71 yards and a touchdown; his blazing speed is becoming a bigger weapon the more confidence he gains.

"You know, the tempo was just unbelievable,'' Newton said of the offense.

Newton was at his best on Carolina's final drive of the first half and first drive of the second. His touchdown passes to LaFell capped sustained drives that ended any chance this one would come down to another fourth-quarter collapse.

Newton took Rivera's words to heart.

"Coach Rivera made it known, made it very clear at halftime, that we're going to keep pushing, keep pushing,'' Newton said. "It wasn't like he did anything different, but it was personal for us.''

For Newton it was a statement, maybe the biggest one he's made since the Panthers made him the top pick of the 2011 draft.