FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Cam Newton didn't want to talk about his future with the Patriots following New England's 38-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Monday night.
But he couldn't stop his frustration from seeping through about how a season that began with lofty expectations has fallen apart.
Newton had a touchdown run, but finished just 5 of 10 for 34 yards passing before being pulled in the third quarter for backup Jarrett Stidham.
Newton’s 34 yards passing were the fewest by a Patriots starting quarterback since 1993. It marked his fourth time this season with fewer than 100 yards passing in a game.
“It’s extremely frustrating, knowing what you’re capable of, having belief in yourself,'' Newton said. "It's just not showing when it counts the most.”
What's worse, after being rescued by coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots after he initially received no offers in free agency, Newton signed a one-year deal hoping to prove himself and bring stability to an offense that had just lost Tom Brady to Tampa Bay.
Instead, the loss Monday was a microcosm of Newton's year. A season full of mistakes, a stagnant passing game and only flashes of the MVP player he was earlier in his career.
After closing to 10-9 in the second quarter, the Patriots were outscored 28-0 the rest of the way, dropping them to 6-9 and cementing their second losing record during Belichick’s 21 seasons in New England.
The defeat marked the first time New England has been swept in the season series by Buffalo since 1999. The Patriots’ run of 19 straight seasons without losing both games to a division opponent was an NFL record.
The Patriots entered missing primary running back Damien Harris, who sat out for the second consecutive game with an ankle injury. They were also down two of their top tacklers in defensive lineman Lawrence Guy and linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, both sidelined with shoulder issues.
Their absences were felt as Bills quarterback Josh Allen passed 320 yards and four touchdowns, joining Alex Smith as the only visiting quarterbacks to throw four or more TD passes with no interceptions in a game at Gillette Stadium.
New England's two worst home losses under Belichick have both come this season: 33-6 against the 49ers in Week 7 and Monday night versus Buffalo.
Asked if he felt he'll be auditioning for a contract either in New England or elsewhere in Sunday's season finale against the Jets, Newton said he hadn't thought about it.
“I don’t care about no contract. I just want to win,” he said.
Stidham was 4 of 11 for 44 yards in relief of Newton. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said last week he felt he had a good idea how much Stidham has developed in his two seasons. What remains unclear is whether Belichick wants to use the final week to get another look at Stidham heading into the offseason.
Belichick said he hadn't made a decision about who will start at quarterback next week against the Jets.
“It was the opportunity to give him a chance to play,” Belichick said of inserting Stidham. “Cam did a good job for us. I mean, that wasn’t the problem. We were just not very competitive in the beginning.”
Newton said he's appreciative that Belichick has stuck with him this season and added that he'll play whatever role he is given next week.
“I’d be first person to tell you I need to play better. At the same time it’s just things that if I’m asked to do something, that’s what I’m going to do," Newton said. “I’ve never been a person to be controversial in the locker room, contrary to any other person’s belief. I try to be the best teammate I can possibly be. That’s what I will continue to do.”
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