Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gonzalez, Rookie Newton Making History in Early Games

It took Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton just six and a half games to match Vince Young's record of rushing touchdowns by a rookie quarterback, which was set during the 2006 regular season. Young's seven rushing touchdowns came over 13 starts (15 total games) in his first of two career Pro Bowl seasons.

Early in the third quarter of play, Newton took a shotgun snap and caught Washington's defense napping with an impressive 16-yard touchdown run for his seventh rushing touchdown in as many games. The TD put Carolina up 16-6 after placekicker Olindo Mare split the uprights on the extra point attempt.

Newton has completed under 60% of his passes for 1,847 yards, 7 TDs and 9 INTs (coming in to Sunday's game), but his biggest threat–just like VY–is his legs. I'm sure defenders would agree in a heartbeat that it's tough to bring down Newton and his 6'5''/248-pound frame.

After starting off his pro career with back-to-back 400-yard performances, there's no doubt that Newton will be the center of attention when it comes time to vote for the Offensive Rookie of the Year at season's end. Let's just hope his individual success translates in to victories for Ron Rivera's Panthers one day soon.
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This afternoon there are just seven early games in action right now (1 P.M. ET), but that doesn't necessarily mean there will be less entertainment, or even history being made for that matter.

Atlanta, in the middle of an NFC clash with the 5-1 Detroit Lions at Ford Field, has seen a little history being chased as well. Future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez–the long-time Kansas City Chief–moved up one more spot on the all-time receptions list.

Sitting at 1,099 heading in to this afternoon's game, Gonzalez jumped from fourth all-time to second all-time on the list, passing Cris Carter (1,101) and Marvin Harrison (1,102). Both of whom are former wideouts who should see Canton in the future–Carter possibly next season, and Harrison once he's eligible.

Up next: Jerry Rice (1,549 all-time), although seeing the 34-year old Gonzalez reach the legendary Jerry Rice on this list seems implausible. Nevertheless, Gonzalez has cemented himself as one of the best tight ends in league history, if he hadn't done so already.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Chuck Burton

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