Cam Newton is largely known for three things. The former Heisman Trophy winner and league MVP is an explosive athlete who plays quarterback in a way few players have ever played the position. Newton is almost as well known for his colorful, outgoing personality that comes out in touchdown celebrations as well as in his pre and postgame outfits. Controversy has also been part of Newton's story, from his unceremonious departure from Florida, his Auburn recruitment, insensitive comments made to a female reporter during a 2017 presser, and his lack of hustle on a fumble near the end of Carolina's loss to Denver in Super Bowl 50. 

Once considered a shoo-in for future induction for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Newton's career has largely gone downhill since his MVP season of 2015. He has not made a single Pro Bowl since his MVP season, when he led the Panthers to a 15-1 regular season record. Since 2015, Newton has had just one season with a winning record. Injuries have contributed to Newton's decline in production, as he missed most of the 2019 season with a Lisfranc fracture. 

Newton's lone season in New England was in many ways a success. Quarterbacking a team in flux (the Patriots led the league in COVID-19 opt outs), Newton went 7-8 as a starter while completing nearly 66% of his passes. At age 31, Newton had one of the best rushing seasons by a quarterback in league history, with 592 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. But Newton's lack of touchdown passes -- a fair criticism -- generated far more headlines in New England, where fans had grown accustomed to watching Tom Brady's greatness for two full decades. 

Newton's time in New England ended with his release before the start of the regular season. And after remaining unsigned for the first half of the regular season, it was reasonable to wonder whether or not the one-time human highlight reel had played his final down of meaningful football. 

Everything changed last week, when the Panthers -- the team that released Newton in March of 2020 -- signed him to help save a season that started with so much promise. Injuries sapped the luster out of Carolina's 3-0 start, as Carolina won just one of its last six games prior to signing Newton. Ironically, the last of those losses came against Newton's other former team, the Patriots, who held Carolina's punchless offense to a mere six points in an 18-point defeat. 

Upon beginning his second chapter in Carolina, Newton quickly informed anyone listening that his signing was not a novelty act. Newton returned to help the Panthers salvage their season. 

Newton's impact was felt in Sunday's surprising win over the Cardinals, who entered the game as the NFC's top-seeded team. Newton got the game started with a 2-yard touchdown run. On the Panthers' next possession, Newton fired a 2-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson. Before the Cardinals could blink, Newton had scored two touchdowns while helping the Panthers jump out to a 14-0 lead. The Panthers never lost momentum en route to moving back to .500. The 34-10 win also moved the Panthers ahead of the Falcons in the NFC South division standings. Carolina also gained ground on the Saints and Buccaneers, who lost their respective matchups on Sunday. 

Given his lack of experience within the Panthers' system, Newton played in just 12% of Carolina's offensive snaps. But his energy and production in his limited role was infectious on his new teammates, who parlayed that momentum into the team's most impressive win during Matt Rhule's two seasons in Carolina. 

"It was a blast. It was a lot of fun," Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey said of playing with Newton again, via Joseph Person of The Athletic. "The energy that he brings is unlike anyone I've ever met.

"Obviously, the story has been Cam this whole week. One thing that I see out of Cam that's no different than what I've seen before: He's here to win. Everybody's here to win. ... I think today was a good example of the team that we can be."

Along with helping revive their season (the Panthers would be the NFC's seventh and final playoff seed if the postseason started today), Newton reminded everyone on Sunday of his unique talent as a dual threat quarterback. Newton will surely continue to remind everyone of his unique skillset as he continues to get more acclimated to the Panthers' offense. 

Newton also reminded the football world that his presence, along with his talent, is one of the reasons why he was one of the NFL's best players for nearly a full decade. And If he can help lift the Panthers to their first postseason berth since 2017, it would be yet another feather on Newton's postgame cap as far as his future Pro Football Hall of Fame prospects is concerned.