CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton found himself apologizing after Sunday's game.
It had nothing to do with his performance on the field, but rather what he said as he angrily confronted referee Jerome Boger that drew a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct in the fourth quarter.
"The words that I said during the game were very disrespectful and I apologized to him during the game, but I'm going public and apologizing again," Newton said. "It was something in the heat of the moment."
The second-year quarterback made up for it by throwing for 171 yards and a touchdown and running for 60 yards and another score as the Carolina Panthers held off the Oakland Raiders 17-6 on Sunday.
Newton's frustration stemmed from a heated game featuring several shoving matches, plenty of verbal exchanges and six unnecessary roughness penalties — including one that sidelined Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer in the first quarter for the rest of the day.
Newton's took exception to what he felt was a late hit by Raiders safety Mike Mitchell with Carolina up 14-6.
"During the heat of the moment I felt as if he finished the hit and I had already thrown the ball," Newton said. "I felt like after he threw it he still finished and drove me into the ground. With the referee right there I questioned his decision not to throw the flag on him."
Boger said after the game he penalized Newton for "disrespectfully addressing an official" and that he "misspoke" when he announced that Newton was flagged for bumping an official.
Boger said he didn't feel the bump was enough to warrant an ejection.
"It wasn't of a malicious nature," Boger said.
Said Newton: "I have to learn to control what I can control."
Panthers coach Ron Rivera Newton said he told Newton he has to learn to keep his emotions in check, although he added "he knows that. He's an emotional guy and he wants to win in a bad way."
Defensive lineman Tommy Kelly admitted the Raiders were going after Newton following Greg Hardy's hard hit to Palmer's back that sidelined their starting quarterback.
"You take our guy out, we're going to go and try to take your guy out," Kelly said. "We're not out to hurt someone, but when that happens ..."
Coach Dennis Allen said Palmer was taken to the hospital after the game, but X-rays on his ribs were negative.
Earlier in the game Newton appeared to kick Kelly as he got up from being sacked. Kelly was penalized for unnecessary roughness when he pushed back after the play.
"He kicked me," Kelly said. "I guess he thought I was trying to do something to his leg, but I don't play like that. How are you going to react if someone kicks you? Are you just going to take it?"
With Palmer out, the Raiders' offense was rendered ineffective.
Carolina's defense limited the Raiders to 189 total yards and 12 first downs.