A 4.9 is pretty good, in the world of dentists agreeing on toothpaste or when searching for a hotel on Yelp.
If you’re a quarterback?
“That’s just unacceptable,” said Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton, who threw for all of 18 yards on three completions with an interception in the first half against the Raiders on Sunday. By the time the team traipsed into the locker room at halftime, Newton was the oh-so-proud owner of a career-low 4.9 quarterback rating and a 24-7 halftime deficit bitterly punctuated by a pick-and-rumble into the end zone by opposing defensive end Khalil Mack. And by the time the re-calculated and final stats rolled out long after the Coliseum cleared, Newton actually sat at a 1.7 QBR for the first half – a new career low.
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He only attempted 11 throws in the first and second quarters as his offense accumulated just 89 yards against Oakland, with his lone bright spot coming from a slick little 3-yard keeper around the edge for the Panthers’ first touchdown.
“I’m not going to evaluate (Cam) until I get a chance to watch the tape,” clipped head coach Ron Rivera after the game.
“I think we all were off, the whole offense was off,” admitted tight end Greg Olsen a few minutes later. The veteran dropped a pass from Newton in the first quarter.
“The first half, I don't know what it was. I just couldn't get into a rhythm,” said Newton. “And then making that lackluster turnover at the end of the first half didn't make it easy for us either.”
“I think the biggest thing, more than anything else was how he came in at halftime. I think his confidence was up. ... Sometimes all you need to do is make a play,” said Rivera.
Newton rallied well, throwing for over 200 yards in the second half and marching his team to a 17-point comeback and 25 unanswered points before the Raiders regained some footing to make it an eventual shootout.
There were also injuries speckled throughout, most notably on the offensive line, which was on its backup-to-everyone tackle Chris Scott and third-string center by the end of the game. The line crumpled against Mack as Newton looked downfield on fourth down with under a minute to play, and the defensive end sack-and-stripped Newton to seal the 35-32 loss for Carolina.
“I've been playing this game long enough to know the tables will turn sooner or later, and they did,” said Newton. “But we just got to find a way to keep the table in our favor.”
Not the case Sunday, or really many Sundays, Thursdays and Monday nights this year.
Carolina dropped to 4-7 on the season, and the solution to the season seems to still be a head-scratcher to the Panthers quarterback. The team can’t seem to string together cohesive quarters – in fact, situationally, Carolina had scored just 15 combined points in the second half in the last four games. But Sunday, the Panthers couldn’t score more than a touchdown in the first half, yet 25 points in the third quarter.
The Panthers flash brilliance at times, like on an 88-yard touchdown scamper by Ted Ginn Jr. in the third quarter or when Carolina complemented linebacker Thomas Davis’ two takeaways with a touchdown apiece.
But they are not sustainable. That has translated to seven games decided by three points, of which the Panthers have lost five. They can’t keep ahold of the momentum they desperately need.
“I really don't know. I find that you really don't know until you know,” Newton said, with a small, solemn shrug.