Newton looks to borrow page from Manning's book


Newton looks to borrow page from Manning's book

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Cam Newton knows he can learn a thing or two from Peyton Manning, beginning with his ability to win close football games.

With his swagger back after outplaying one of the NFL's bright young quarterbacks last week in Robert Griffin III, Newton faces one of the all-time great signal-callers Sunday when the Panthers host Manning and the Denver Broncos.

Manning closes out games better than anyone - something the second-year Carolina QB has struggled to do.

Newton said Manning is ``transcending into a God of the game. ... He's a Hall of Fame quarterback and the records he's set are extraordinary.''

Last week against Cincinnati, Manning engineered his 48th game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime, surpassing Dan Marino for the most in NFL history - after bringing the Broncos back from a 20-17.

``When we get up in a game it's like having a coach out there,'' Broncos linebacker Von Miller said of Manning. ``Sometimes you're on teams where it's a close game and the quarterback throws the ball and you kind of hold your breath. But when Peyton is out there we have full confidence in him.''

Newton would like his teammates to have that same confidence in him when the game is on the line.

The Panthers lost four straight games after leading in the fourth quarter before finally snapping that streak last week by holding off the Washington Redskins 21-13.

But Newton wasn't exactly pleased with how the Panthers won it.

Carolina led by 15 in the fourth quarter when the offense went into a bit of a funk and failed to pick up a key first down when it had a chance to bury the Redskins and seal the win.

``I have to do a better job of finishing,'' Newton said. ``There are things we as a team have to do better. ... I think it is more our psyche than anything. I think it's more mental than physical.''

He knows the Panthers can ill afford any of their fourth quarter lulls against Manning and company.

It seems no lead is safe against the Broncos, who have outscored their opponents 103-23 in the fourth quarter.

At the midway point of the season, neither Carolina's numbers nor his own stats are what Newton would have liked. Carolina owns the worst record in the NFC at 2-6 and Newton ranks 29th in the league with a quarterback rating of 77.7.

While he leads the Panthers in rushing with 347 yards and four touchdowns, he sees plenty of room for improvement. Newton has fumbled eight times this year, losing it three times. And he's thrown more interceptions (8) than touchdown passes (6).

``I have to protect the ball better, running the football and throwing it,'' Newton said.

Miller, who was drafted second overall in the 2011 NFL draft one spot behind Newton, has no doubt Newton will figure it out.

He considers Newton one of the best quarterbacks in the game, even calling himself ``one of Cam's biggest fans.''

``Coming out (in the draft) with him last year I saw him have to fight through all of that adversity and battle all of the naysayers,'' Miller said. ``But to be able to throw the ball and run the ball and being the overall superstar that he is, if I had children that wanted to play quarterback I would tell them to watch Cam Newton.''

As players, Manning and Newton couldn't be much different.

Manning has made his living off a strong arm and his ability to read defenses, something Newton admits he has to improve upon for the Panthers to take the next step.

``I have to get better just at making better decisions as far as getting through reads and checking the football down,'' Newton said. ``It's a steady process that has to happen. It's a constant reminder that has to be in my head.

``Even though I go into the game focusing on that I have to remember it when it comes to, say, the third play of the third quarter for example.''


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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.


A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.


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3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.