It's the job of Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil to protect his quarterback, Cam Newton, whether the attackers are pass-rushers or members of the media. He's now fending off the latter, after failing to keep the former at bay in a 24-10 loss at Super Bowl 50.
Newton appeared to let up on a fourth-quarter fumble which led to a Broncos touchdown that ultimately put the game out of Carolina's reach. The league MVP's late-game effort has been called into question as a result of the play, and Kalil is having none of that.
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Cam's not the quitting type. So this idea or this notion that he quit on us is garbage. I think it's absolute garbage. That's not who he is.
We just didn't play good enough. And as an offensive line group, didn't give him enough confidence to do what he does best. And really we just didn't get in a rhythm. That's what killed us. Any time we had any kind of momentum, we killed ourselves in penalties and not taking care of the football.
Newton did not play well in his first career Super Bowl appearance. He completed 44 percent of his pass attempts for 265 yards and did not throw or rush for a single touchdown. He was intercepted once, sacked six times and lost two fumbles.
Although his statistical output was not up to par, Newton's teammates have not blamed him for the team's shortcomings with the Lombardi Trophy on the line.