Kyusung Gong/Associated Press
After Cam Newton failed to throw a touchdown pass for the New England Patriots against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday, the team pulled him in the fourth quarter in favor of second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
The Rams led 24-3 when Stidham came into the game.
Newton threw for 119 yards on nine completions and was picked off once by the Rams defense. Alternatively, Jared Goff threw for a touchdown with 138 yards and 16 completions for Los Angeles with under six minutes to play.
Stidham, who spent last year as the backup to Tom Brady after the Patriots selected him in the fourth round out of Auburn, has yet to start a game. When Newton was sidelined with COVID-19 earlier this season, longtime Patriots backup Brian Hoyer got the start, though Stidham received playing time in that outing after New England pulled Hoyer.
Through three games entering Thursday, Stidham threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-26 passing. In each of the three outings, he hovered between 60 and 64 passing yards, with the bulk of his action coming in Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs, when he played 25 offensive snaps.
Newton, in his 10th season in the league, has remained the team’s starter, even though his production has been inconsistent. After throwing 365 yards in a loss to the Houston Texans in Week 11, he collected just 84 yards in Week 12 and 69 on Thursday, though he added two rushing touchdowns on 48 yards against the Rams.
With the Patriots vying for a playoff spot, they’ll face the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets to close out the season. Whether it’s Newton or Stidham under center, they’ll need to get it together, or New England will miss the postseason for the first time since 2008.
The Patriots could finish the season 9-7 at best, but their postseason chances would still be out of their control, since the Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins are both in better shape to take the wild card spots.