Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been roundly criticized for failing to fall on his fumble with four minutes left in the fourth quarter, a fumble that all but sealed the game for the Broncos.
The player who did recover that fumble, Broncos safety T.J. Ward, believes Newton was motivated by a desire to protect himself and stay healthy in the offseason.
“If he would have touched that ball, I was gonna hit him right in his face, and I wasn’t the only one,” Ward told Mike Silver of NFL.com. “We were hungry for that one. We saw that ball and it was like hyenas on an antelope. And I don’t know — maybe he needed to stay healthy for next year.”
It’s hard to understand what Newton was doing. It certainly looked like he didn’t want to dive into the scrum, but Newton has always been a physical runner, and he’s never been afraid to play through injuries. Why would he suddenly lose his toughness in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl? That’s a good question for Newton, who at the moment isn’t answering questions.