Cam Newton, in case you missed it, had the poutiest press conference in Super Bowl history on Sunday, sulking out of the room mid-interview. Newton reportedly didn’t like that he could hear the Broncos celebrating and talking about their win.
If that’s true, there’s a pretty good chance that he heard Chris Harris Jr.
“I think he didn’t like what I was saying,” the Broncos cornerback said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I definitely think the media setup, having us right there by each other, was a bad idea. I had no idea he was on the other side. I was just doing my normal press conference and (sharing) what I felt about the game.”
Indeed, media asked Harris what the game plan was, and Harris didn’t hold back.
“I just told them the game plan was to force (Newton) to throw, for him to come out and throw at me, (Bradley) Roby and (Aqib) Talib and see if he can win the game on his shoulders throwing the ball,” Harris said. “We felt like he couldn’t.”
He didn’t. Newton finished 18-of-41 for 265 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception and two fumbles. He was also sacked six times.
So, what was the issue? Were Newton’s receivers not getting open, or was he not accurate enough?
“I would say both,” Harris said. “We were able to shut down their receivers, have pretty good coverage all night. They hit us (with) a couple big plays. Other than that, we were able to shut them down.”
The Panthers ran the ball with relative ease during the regular season but were held to 3.5 yards per carry on non-Newton runs on Sunday.
“We loaded the box all game, had one-on-one coverage outside and we did something different than a lot of teams did,” Harris said. “A lot of teams played him zone and were scared of their receivers. We weren’t. We set up, played press, challenged them and that allowed our D-Line to rush like crazy and play the run and be able to shut that down.”
Corey Brown and Ted Ginn Jr. led Carolina with four catches apiece for 80 and 74 yards, respectively.
“I would say Ted is an extremely fast receiver,” Harris said. “(But) I didn’t have any fear for any of those guys.”
Newton was under heavy duress for much the game, but Carolina still had the ball in the final minutes with a chance to take the lead. Only Newton fumbled. Even worse, he didn’t dive to recover the fumble. The Broncos took over and scored the game-sealing touchdown.
Newton said he didn’t dive because he was worried about injuring his leg.
That explanation wouldn’t have flown in Denver’s locker room.
“No, in that situation, it’s the Super bowl,” Harris said. “The ball’s there. You got to get the ball any possible way that you can. I would definitely want my quarterback to dive for it.”
Gottlieb wondered if the Panthers made a mistake in deferring after winning the coin toss. After all, the Panthers played with a lead seemingly all season. Once they got behind, though, they struggled to establish their running game and Newton began air-mailing receiving.
Harris didn’t necessarily agree.
“I think that was very smart of them (to defer),” he said. “You don’t want to see us first on defense.”