The last time Cam Newton’s team was 14-0, he was celebrating a national championship with the Auburn Tigers back in 2010.
Fast forward five years and he’s repeating history, as the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers staved off a furious New York Giants rally on Sunday to earn a 38-35 victory and improve to 14-0. Not surprisingly, the lone unbeaten NFL team maintained an unblemished record thanks to an inflated stat line from Newton, who shined yet again with the spotlight at its brightest.
In doing so, the former Auburn quarterback may have cemented his status as the NFL MVP as well. Newton passed for five touchdowns. He threw for 340 yards and rushed for another 100, and did not throw an interception.
Newton became the first player in NFL history to throw for over 300 yards and rush for 100 yards and throw five touchdowns in a single game.
Not only has Newton been sensational this season, but it’s a testament to an oft-overlooked career. Newton has thrown for at least 3,000 yards and rushed for at least 500 yards in five seasons. He has done it every year he has been in the NFL.
Newton has matched his career-high mark of five touchdown passes twice in the last three games and three times in the last five. Since Week 11 against Washington, Newton has thrown for 18 touchdown passes compared to only one interception.
Only four other quarterbacks have thrown for five touchdowns three different times in a season. Newton joins the elite company of MVPs Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, who accomplished the feat in 2007 and 2014, respectively. Drew Brees (2011) and Daunte Culpepper (2004) have also done it.
Newton’s late-season surge has helped bolster his December record, which is currently 17-3. In those 20 games, Newton has passed for 41 touchdowns and ran for another 10.
These career accolades come in a season in which Newton directs the NFL’s highest-scoring offense. The Panthers quarterback not only ranks in the top-15 passing leaders, but in the top-30 rushing leaders as well.
Simply put, Newton is the most integral component on the NFL’s best team. He is Carolina’s critical Jenga piece and been the consistent piece in each of the team’s 14 victories thus far.
If Newton had not locked up his status as the favorite for league MVP honors, then Sunday should seal it. Numbers don’t lie, and No. 1 has many that back up his claim as the most valuable player in 2015.