A day after his fumble cost the Patriots a chance to beat the Bills, quarterback Cam Newton stood by his decision to carry the ball in his right hand on the team’s final play of the game.
“Any ballcarrier knows when the game is on the line or in any type of situation where you don’t have too much wiggle room, you keep it in your dominant hand because that’s your strongest hand,” Newton said Monday morning during his weekly radio interview on WEEI.
With the ball at Buffalo’s 19-yard line and less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, Newton rushed toward the left sideline and kept the ball in his right hand, toward the open field. As Bills defensive tackle Justin Zimmer brought down Newton from behind at Buffalo’s 14-yard line, he punched the ball free. The fumble was recovered by the Bills.
In that situation, with Newton running to the left, there is an argument to be made that he should have carried the ball in his left hand because then the ball could have bounced out of bounds.
Newton said after the defeat Sunday he “almost always” rushes with the ball in his right hand — his dominant hand — for sake of comfort.
After rewatching the play multiple times, he defended his choice.
“My attention wasn’t really on the defender who hit it,” Newton said. “He came from an angle which wasn’t in my line of eyesight, which is inexcusable. Still, you always want to keep it in — or for me, I always want to keep it in my dominant hand so when things like that do happen, you’re more or less stronger with one arm than the next.”
Newton did not shirk any blame for his error, once again emphasizing the importance of protecting the football. He asked for listeners to understand that just because the Patriots are losing, that doesn’t mean the players aren’t working hard.
“So much hard work goes in vain when you don’t win, and I think that’s the thing that people just need to notice,” he said. “We’re all judged on, ‘Did you win on Sunday? OK, why didn’t you win? It must have been something you did Thursday, Friday. You must have been out at the club. You must have been just breezing by.' ”
Though the Patriots are 2-5 and sit third in the AFC East, Newton still expressed faith the team can turn things around. With Tuesday’s trade deadline looming, he deferred to coach Bill Belichick and the front office on what moves should or shouldn’t be made.
“That’s the last of my worries,” he said. “I want to make it clear that I have no interest in worrying about anybody’s job except for my job.”
As for whether he thinks New England can still advance to the playoffs?
“I think this team can still win the next game,” he said.