certainly up there, too.
Cornerbacks gets challenged pretty much every single play. But when his coaching staff does it, simply by giving him that assignment, it seems to take his play to a new level.
"It's a huge challenge and I like it," Newman said. "It's a chance to go up against the best. "He's a great receiver. He's still one of the best receivers out there. We definitely respect each other. We've had some good battles and we're just going to keep doing it."
Score this night for Newman, who agreed with the notion that Monday was a "bounce-back" game for him personally.
"Yeah it was . . . it was huge," Newman said. "Before the game, we talked about how our defensive line and linebackers did their job last week and how we didn't do our job. So I told them, âHey, it's on us. We've got to shut these guys down.' We let this team down last week and we had to make up for it this week."
Newman had allowed two long pass plays in the first two games this season, but he said it felt good to get one back with the interception - whether it was lucky or not.
And the way it was set up, it was eerily similar to last week's loss to the Giants. The Cowboys were up six and the Panthers had the ball with 5:57 to play, 90 yards from a go-ahead touchdown. But this time, Newman made sure it had a different ending.
"Basically, I was just trying to get a jam on him," Newman recalled of the interception when he was covering Smith."I got a hand on him and he tried to re-direct and I don't know if it was a called slant but that's what the quarterback threw. I just looked inside and saw the ball coming - it was just a lucky play on my part."
Lucky or not, Newman hasn't always made that play. If there's been a real knock on his game, it's that he hasn't made that huge play in the clutch. Sure, he can cover the best of them, but interceptions to seal or win the game just haven't come his way.
Personally, I think it's the main reason he's only been to one Pro Bowl and not more. However, it's plays like Monday night's that get you those individual honors. Not saying Newman is headed back to the Pro Bowl this year, but game-sealing interception returns on national television certainly don't hurt.
But that was just the "lucky" part of Newman's night. His best effort was answering the challenge of stopping Carolina's most dangerous player.