Cam Newton waited 10 weeks to get back onto an NFL roster, but he didn't have to wait nearly as long to score his first touchdown of the season in the Carolina Panthers' 34-10 win at Arizona on Sunday.
After signing with the Panthers late last week, Newton didn't start the game at quarterback — that was P.J. Walker — but on second-and-goal from the 2-yard line early in the first quarter, Newton came in for his first snap and did what he's done better than nearly every player that's played the position in the modern NFL: He ran it.
Lined up in the shotgun, Newton got the snap and ran wide right, stiff-arming linebacker Zaven Collins as fullback Giovanni Ricci took Markus Golden, who was pursuing Newton from behind, out of the play. Newton jumped Isaiah Simmons at the goal line and was in for the touchdown.
Newton unbuckled his helmet, removed it, and shouted "I'M BACK! I'M BACK!"
Removing his helmet meant an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but was any Panthers fan really upset about it?
Carolina took its first possession thanks to an interception, and its second came when the defense stopped Arizona in its own territory, stuffing Colt McCoy on fourth-and-1 from the Cardinals' 42.
Walker got the offense into the red zone again, and after Christian McCaffrey was ruled down at the 2 and had a touchdown taken off the board, Newton came in again.
This time he passed, threading a beautiful ball to Robby Anderson in the front right corner of the end zone, rolling to his right from the shotgun.
— NFL (@NFL) November 14, 2021
Anderson might be happier than many that Newton is back; last week cameras caught him shouting at Sam Darnold on the sideline.
Darnold was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury this week, leading to the Panthers signing Newton back to the team. The 2015 NFL MVP spent last year with the New England Patriots but was released on Aug. 31.
Newton finished Sunday with three carries for 14 yards and the touchdown, while he completed 3-of-4 passes for eight yards and his other touchdown.