SAN FRANCISCO – The morning after one of the worst losses of his life, Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil hadn't watched the replay from Super Bowl 50 the rest of the world is commenting on: the fourth-quarter fumble that Panthers quarterback Cam Newton did not dive on.
But Kalil didn't need to see the replay to know the play that sealed the Denver Broncos' 24-10 victory was not a character indictment of the Panthers' franchise quarterback and league MVP.
"Cam's not the quitting type. So this idea or this notion that he quit on us is garbage. I think it's absolute garbage. That's not who he is," Kalil said Monday during a phone interview before the Panthers returned to Charlotte, N.C.
"We just didn't play good enough. And as an offensive line group, didn't give him enough confidence to do what he does best," Kalil said. "And really we just didn't get in a rhythm. That's what killed us. Any time we had any kind of momentum, we killed ourselves in penalties and not taking care of the football."
Several Broncos players said after the game that Newton wanted no part of getting in the scrum for the loose ball. Safety T.J. Ward told NFL.com, "I don't know, maybe he needed to stay healthy for next year."
The public doesn't know what was going on in Newton's head. When asked about the play after the game, Newton put up his hands and said, "I don't know."