Cam Newton has qualified Sunday's matchup with the Buffalo Bills as a "must win" for the Patriots. Given that New England is 2-4 on the season and teetering on a lost year in 2020, he's 100% accurate in that assessment. On a macro-level, this Week 8 contest is also pivotal for the quarterback's career with the Patriots. To this point, Newton has struggled with efficiency, specifically through the air. Rock-bottom came in that regard when he threw three interceptions in the Patriots' eventual loss to the 49ers in Week 7 where he was benched for the fourth quarter for second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
"When you played the way I played this week -- terrible -- you open the doors. This whole week was a humbling experience," Newton told reporters this week during a videoconference, via the Providence Journal. "Getting a tap on the shoulder was a humbling experience, saying, 'Hey [we're putting in Stidham].' That's all humbling. I'm not used to that.
"Now I'm at a crossroads that says, 'Hey, if you don't pick up your play, that's going to be a permanent decision.' "
Newton did start out his Patriots tenure pretty strong, rushing for two touchdowns in the opening win against Miami and nearly defeated Russell Wilson in Seattle in Week 2 by throwing for 397 yards. Even in a less efficient afternoon against the Raiders in Week 3, Newton was able to lead the way to move New England to 2-1 on the year. It was after that point, however, when things took a turn. Newton missed one game and nearly two weeks of practice due to his positive COVID-19 test. Upon his return, Newton has totaled just 255 yards passing over two games and five interceptions. He also rushed for 95 yards and a score over that stretch.
"These last two games have been one after the other where I've been more thinking than playing and reacting," Newton said. "I understand that type of football play is unacceptable. I'm all about putting the football team in the best position to win. That's what I have to do here moving forward.
"I'm on a constant journey to perfection. Yeah, having these last couple of days at practice — whether it's dry, rainy or whatever — my mentality has still been the same. I still want to control to make it a smoother transition leading the huddle and, by the time I say, 'Hut,' I know exactly what I'm supposed to do, where I'm supposed to go, how I'm supposed to get there and getting there."
The Patriots have lost three-straight games for the first time since 2002 and will simply need better play from Newton, who currently ranks 29th in passing yards and 30th in both completions and quarterback rating.
"Losing is not acceptable in this locker room, in this county, in this state, in this area, in this region, so, Cameron Newton, you need to pick your [expletive] up," he said. "That's what I learned."
Newton and the Patriots have a lot riding on this Week 8 matchup in Buffalo as it has the ability to truly be a make-or-break game for both the Patriots 2020 season and Newton's potential long-term future in Foxborough.