Cam Newton compared his growth as an NFL quarterback with a smartphone’s software update.
He slides to unlock, goes to settings, presses update software and there is the latest version of the Carolina Panthers’ starter.
It’s not necessarily that Newton, a former Westlake High star, has grown as much as he simply has updated.
“We all have smartphones, and as a human, I think we all need updates as well,” Newton said. “As we go through so much as a team, go through so much as a person, you understand and learn from the mistakes.”
Newton, 24, plans to update his operating system before Sunday’s NFC playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers, his first postseason game as a professional. But he and coach Ron Rivera made it clear this isn’t the first time Newton or the Panthers have been in need-to-win situations.
The two offered close wins against the 49ers, Patriots, Dolphins, Saints and Falcons this season as proof that Newton and the team can rise to the occasion.
Wide receiver Percy Harvin will play for the Seattle Seahawks in Saturday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints after missing most of the season following hip surgery.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said there would be no limitations on how they can use Harvin, including being used on kickoff returns. Harvin has played in one game this season, in Week 11 against Minnesota, after undergoing surgery in early August to repair the labrum in his hip.
NOT JUST BREES
The Saints, whose offense has been defined by Drew Brees’ prolific passing the past eight years, rushed for 185 yards in an opening-round playoff victory at Philadelphia last weekend.
Coach Sean Payton’s confidence in the ground game never was more obvious than when he called eight runs on New Orleans’ 10-play game-winning drive that chewed up the last 4:54 on the clock.
Mark Ingram, who largely has struggled to live up to the expectations that came with being a Heisman Trophy winner and first-round draft choice, led the running game in the absence of leading rusher Pierre Thomas because of a chest injury. Ingram rushed 18 times for 97 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.
BY THE NUMBERS
11 Postseason appearances by the Colts since 2002, the most of any NFL team
HE SAID IT
“There are coaches who have always felt that if you’re going to be good, and you’re going to win a big game, your quarterback has to run three or four times for a first down on third down. Now that old-timer group, or whatever you call them, none of them are going to run three or four times for a first down. But the other (younger) group is going to. Brees, (Tom) Brady, (Peyton) Manning … they’re going to win it by throwing the ball and somewhere during the game getting a big run to keep drives going.” — Hall of Fame coach John Madden on the difference in styles between young and old quarterbacks in the playoffs
Compiled by Michael Cunningham