Cam (2 TDs), new-look Pats off to running start

  • Covered Patriots since 1997
  • Joined ESPN in 2009

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Quarterback Cam Newton rushed for two touchdowns to help lead the new-look New England Patriots offense — powered by the ground game — past the Miami Dolphins 21-11 in Sunday’s regular-season opener at Gillette Stadium.

Newton’s 75 rushing yards on 15 carries were the most by a Patriots quarterback since 1977, when Steve Grogan had 81 rushing yards at the Buffalo Bills, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

His 15 rush attempts were the most ever by a Patriots QB in a game. And the Patriots overall rushed 42 times for 217 yards, both totals their most in a season opener under coach Bill Belichick

“Cam’s been great for us,” Belichick said. “I thought he played well today.”

Newton had a 4-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, and added an 11-yard rushing score in the third. His ability as a runner led Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to introduce zone-read concepts never utilized before with Tom Brady, who is more adept as a pocket passer.

To highlight the contrast, consider that Brady had 34 rushing yards all of last season. Even when excluding kneel-downs, Brady would have totaled just 46 rushing yards in 2019, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information.

Over the past 35 seasons, the Patriots had just three games in which quarterbacks had multiple rushing touchdowns, all by Brady.

Even Newton might have been surprised by how much the Patriots called his number as a rusher. His 13 designed rushes, the final one going for 11 yards to close out the game, were the second most of his career, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information (15 in 2014, Week 6 at Bengals).

But while the rushing attack powered the way, Newton was effective when called upon to throw, finishing 15-of-19 for 155 yards, with no interceptions. The 19 attempts were the fewest by a Patriots starting QB since Jacoby Brissett in Week 3 of the 2016 season.

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