Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has seen Peyton Manning in Papa Johns ads and Buick commercials.
He has also watched Manning direct a few of his NFL-record 48 fourth-quarter comebacks.
Newton and Manning, who are represented by the marketing firm IMG, have the ads in common.
The fourth-quarter comebacks? Not so much.
Manning, the future hall of fame quarterback in his first season in Denver, broke Dan Marinos record for fourth-quarter or overtime comebacks since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger last week when he brought the Broncos back for a 31-23 win at Cincinnati.
Newton, who broke Mannings rookie record for passing yards last season, has one game-winning drive: a five-play, 55-yard touchdown march with about seven minutes left in a 16-10 win against Jacksonville on Sept. 25, 2011. Newton had the Panthers in position late in two other games last season, but Olindo Mare missed short field goals in losses to Minnesota and Atlanta.
After producing one comeback with Indianapolis in 1998, Mannings reputation as a clutch performer took off his second season when he orchestrated seven comebacks.
Newton is looking forward to facing Manning on Sunday when the Panthers (2-6) host Denver.
To say Im a big fan of Peyton Mannings is an understatement. Hes transcending to a god of the game. Hes obviously a Hall of Fame quarterback, Newton said. What he has done for this game and the records he has set is just extraordinary. Its going to be exciting to watch. Im saying this in the best way possible: Im not wishing him any luck for this game.
Newton had a couple of chances to make fourth-quarter magic this season. But he had a crucial fumble against the Falcons, and misfired on a throw into the end zone in the final minutes against Seattle.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the fourth-quarter problems are not a Newton problem, but a team problem.
Weve had a couple close ones this year that if we make a play, now were talking about this is the signature (drive) , Rivera said. Its not just him, but its us as a team and it falls on the other guys as well. Were looking for that opportunity.
Newton said little things get magnified in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line.
Its about putting your head on the right side (of a defender), not the left side. Finishing the blocks, finishing the route. Putting the football in a position where he (a receiver) can catch it and run, Newton said. Everybody has to be accountable in those type of situations.
In eight games with the Broncos, Manning has orchestrated three come-from-behind victories. Denver (5-3) overcame a 24-0 halftime deficit at San Diego to win 35-24 in Week 6.
Rivera said Manning uses the first few quarters to get a feel for the defense.
Hell look you over and try to get a sense and a feel, and when they get to the sidelines they talk about what just happened and what they just went through, Rivera said. Thats why those sideline pictures are so important to a guy like him because he controls so much at the line of scrimmage as far as audibling and checking.
And probably by the fourth quarter if you havent changed things up or done something different, he cuts it loose.
The Panthers do very little audibling with Newton, although Rivera said Newton has built-in checks to kill a play and go with another call against certain defensive looks.
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