Patriots quarterback Cam Newton was benched during a game for the second time this season Thursday night. He was replaced by Jarrett Stidham with the Patriots trailing the Rams 24-3 and just over 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Newton was unable to move the New England offense against an elite Los Angeles defense. He completed 9 of 16 passes for 119 yards and threw a pick-six in the first half that gave the Rams a 17-0 lead. He also was sacked four times. He rushed seven times for 16 yards.
“We knew exactly what they were going to do,” Newton told reporters postgame. “We’ve just got to be better and it starts with me personally. Just have to make more plays. That’s what it comes down to.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick cut off any talk about a quarterback change for New England’s Week 15 at the Dolphins.
“Cam’s our quarterback,” said Belichick, who refused to answer a follow-up question about why Newton is a better option over Stidham.
Stidham, a second-year pro out of Auburn, almost led the Pats to points on his first drive but his pass on fourth down from the LA 16 was broken up. He finished 5-for-7 passing for 27 yards and two sacks. He didn’t even get to throw the ball on New England’s final drive in the last two minutes. The Patriots ran it on four consecutive plays before turning the ball over on downs again.
Belichick also yanked Newton from a Week 7 blowout loss to the 49ers. The veteran responded well to that event: In the weeks after that benching and before Thursday’s clunker, Newton led the Pats to a 4-2 record to get the team to .500 (6-6). He completed 66.2 percent of his passes and averaged 7.0 yards per attempt, although he threw just three touchdowns to two interceptions. He also rushed 56 times for 191 yards and six scores.