Cam Newton’s pick-six against the Rams was as inexcusable as it gets.
The New England Patriots’ season all but officially ended after Thursday’s drubbing at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams. The 24-3 final score very much reflected how the night went for Bill Belichick and Co.
Four red zone trips. Three points. One of those drives was derailed thanks to a horrific pick-six thrown by quarterback Cam Newton. After Myles Bryant made an incredible play to intercept Jared Goff, the Pats had life again in Rams territory with a chance to make it a one-score game. They were trailing 10-0.
Instead, a botched screen play resulted in Newton throwing an ill-advised pass into heavy traffic. It was picked off by Kenny Young and returned 79 yards for a touchdown. Game over in the second quarter. Need to see it again as a reminder?
OK, look, it wasn’t that egregious when you watch all those different angles, but this was a second down in the red zone. Newton was getting swallowed on both edges while Aaron Donald completely blew up the middle of the play and affected Damien Harris’ route. There was a cluster of EIGHT players in the area where Harris was supposed to haul in the pass.
It’s inexcusable because it shouldn’t have been forced, though Belichick doesn’t seem to agree, and he defended Newton’s decision. We’re not sure why.
“That was a tough play,” Belichick told reporters on Friday. “[Aaron] Donald made a good play, knocked Damien [Harris] off. He could have thrown it into the ground, but I don’t know why he would have thrown it into the ground. It really wasn’t that kind of play. It was just one of those things that, like I said, Donald made a good play, knocked the timing off a little bit.”
However, it’s hard to argue the “timing” here was the primary concern — yes, it was thrown off, but that means the pass should’ve never been delivered. The throw was floated into heavy traffic and Newton didn’t have enough protection to let the play develop, as you can see when he launches the ball as Harris’ back is still towards him. The timing of the entire play was off and every other surrounding circumstance only made it worse.
It’s the quarterback’s job to make a snap judgment, especially during a play like that. It’s not overly critical to admit Newton made the wrong call, but it’s definitely a bit odd to defend it since we have the luxury of seeing every possible angle.