The New England Patriots made a valiant comeback attempt in Sunday's Week 8 road game against the Buffalo Bills, but they came up short when quarterback Cam Newton fumbled the ball in the red zone on the team's final drive of the fourth quarter.
The Patriots started the drive on their own 21-yard line and drove 65 yards on 12 plays before Newton's turnover. Newton took the snap on 2nd-and-10 at the Bills' 19-yard line and picked up five yards before losing the ball. The Bills recovered and ran out the clock to preserve a 24-21 win.
It was yet another frustrating late-game sequence for the Patriots, who've now lost four consecutive games for the first time since 2002.
Newton was his toughest critic when asked about the fumble in his postgame video press conference.
"It's unacceptable," Newton admitted. "I've got to protect the ball."
Newton added: "I'm still jeopardizing this team's success because of my lackluster performance protecting the football. Coach trusts me with the ball in my hands, and I wouldn't want it any other way. I just have to do a better job protecting it."
Turnovers have been a problem for Newton this season. He's thrown seven interceptions with one fumble lost in six games. The Patriots have 15 turnovers as a team through seven games, which is the second-most of any team.
Not only is Newton turning the ball over too much, he's also not producing enough as a passer. The 2015 league MVP hasn't thrown a single touchdown pass since a Week 3 win over the Las Vegas Raiders. He's tallied 175 or more passing yards in only one of his six games played.
The Patriots now have a 2-5 record and remain in third place in the AFC East. If they are going to have any chance at making the playoffs this season, Newton must show significant improvement ASAP. Consistently subpar quarterback play is too difficult of a challenge to overcome.