ASHBURN — Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers have plenty to celebrate this season.
The Panthers (9-0) are one of two undefeated teams — the other is the New England Patriots — and they have won 13 consecutive regular-season games, which is the longest active streak.
Carolina beat the Green Bay Packers, handing them their second of three consecutive losses. Then, last week Newton completed 21 of 26 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another touchdown in a 27-10 win against the Tennessee Titans.
Newton followed the rushing touchdown with a prolonged celebration that drew ire from the Tennessee defense, as well as fan Rosemary Plorin. The Nashville resident attended the game with her 9-year-old daughter and wrote an open letter to The Charlotte Observer, criticizing the quarterback’s “pelvic thrusts” and suggesting he change his behavior.
Redskins defensive end Jason Hatcher had no problem with Newton’s antics. When the Redskins visit the Panthers on Sunday, the defense knows it can curb the quarterback’s enthusiasm by keeping him out of the end zone — or as Hatcher put it, by cutting the music.
“He’s an entertainer,” Hatcher said. “It’s good for the sport. He’s a well-spoken guy, does everything right. The guy can dance. Just turn the music off and he’ll stop dancing. That’s all they gotta do. It’s a 10-second, whatever he was doing, I don’t know what he was doing but he was boogieing now. Just turn the music off, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to say, ‘DJ, cut. Enough dancing, Cam.’”
That said, it is hardly easy to bring down the 6-foot-5, 245-pound quarterback. He’s rushed for 366 yards and six touchdowns so far this season, averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
“That guy looks like a defensive end,” Hatcher said. “He’s just a good quarterback playing good football. You just try to go out on the field and jump on the back of a bull and try to pull him down. He’s strong, man. He’s strong. He’s a special dude.”
Newton has also rebounded from a poor three-week stretch that began after the team’s bye in Week 5.
Though the Panthers won all three games against the Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts, they did so by a combined margin of 18 points. During that stretch, Newton completed 50 of 95 passes for 714 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions.
In the two games since — wins against Green Bay and Tennessee — Newton has completed 36 of 56 passes for 514 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.
“He’s something to deal with now,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “He’s playing, you know, you can make a case for him for MVP right now. He’s playing like it. He’s gotten their team in great positions to win at the end of games. He’s making plays in key situations … so he’s playing at a very high level.”