Before the Carolina Panthers beat the Seattle Seahawks 31-24 on Sunday, Warren Moon spent a few minutes with Cam Newton. It was a generation-bridging scene: Moon, the Hall of Fame quarterback, chatting with Newton, who, if his first five seasons are any indication, could also find himself in Canton one day.
Newton’s performance against Seattle did nothing to diminish that possibility; in fact, it only enhanced it – and now, his team is just one win away from the Super Bowl.
“I think he’s had an MVP-type season,” Moon, the Seahawks radio analyst, said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “He has really matured as a quarterback as far as his work ethic, the time he puts in the building. He’s been a really good leader on that team, and I talked to other guys on the team and coaches. Those are the guys that tell me what type of guy he is and how he’s changed since he first came into the league and how he’s growing into the position. He’s still a little flamboyant in some of the things that he does and that’s kind of his personality, but as far as being a field general on the field and making great decisions and helping his football team win games, he’s doing all those things that kind of elevate him into that upper echelon of quarterbacks.”
Newton was a steady 16-of-22 for 161 yards and one touchdown on Sunday, as Carolina raced out to a 31-0 lead. Russell Wilson, meanwhile, threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns, but he also more than twice as many passing attempts (48) as Newton and threw two interceptions, including a pick-six that put the Seahawks in a 14-0 hole less than four minutes into he game.
“Yesterday was a big game for (Newton) because he hadn’t had a lot of success against Russell Wilson over the course of his career,” Moon said. “(The Seahawks) had beaten them the last three times they had played in Carolina, so that was a huge game for him and that football team. You never know how a team is going to come back from having a few weeks off, especially if they’re not used to that and how they come out of a bye week. They came out with a lot of fire. You got to give Ron Rivera a lot of credit for the way he prepared his team, and they came out of the locker room and took advantage of being at home and really fed off of that home-field advantage.”
Seattle, on the the other hand, fell short in its bid for a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance. Still, Moon believes the Seahawks will be championship contenders again – and possibly as soon as next season.
“I think it can happen again quickly just because they have a really good core group of guys on that football team,” Moon said. “You look at the ages of the guys on that team, and none of them are really old. Most of them are (between 25 and 27 and in) the prime of their career. Of course they’re going to have to make some changes, no question about it, just because of the salary cap and the business of the game. You always lose some players every year. But John Schneider and Pete Carroll do a great job of identifying talent, of plugging guys that fit into their system and they have a lot of young guys that are waiting in the wings to play. So I don’t see this team falling off very much, especially when you still have your quarterback. A quarterback in this league is so key. If you have a good one, you can build around a great quarterback in this league, and I think they have a great quarterback on this football team.”