Let's get the fumble conversation out of the way first. Cam Newton was loose with it. He was loose with it before that final carry, actually. That final carry just happened to be when the Bills took advantage.
Newton acknowledged his mistake. He was accountable after the fact. But it's hard to look at that fumble as an outlier. He's been turnover-prone for weeks. And if the Patriots are hoping to be built with players who play their best in the most critical situations, what must they think of that last play?
Newton remains the team's best option to win games moving forward, but if the Patriots had any kind of representative quarterback behind him, that wouldn't be the slam-dunk choice it appears to be in Foxboro at the moment.
Newton worked well with Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd, though they were often very much open and completions didn't require superhuman efforts from the quarterback. (It does look like it requires real effort for Newton to get the ball down the field, though.) His best throw of the day might've been to Byrd on a crosser near the right sideline. The two-point play to Meyers also required some accuracy in a tight spot.
His best decision of the day came down to either a) his check-down to James White for a long catch-and-run, where it looked like Newton cycled through his progression and landed with the safest option or b) his check at the line to call for an option pitch to Rex Burkhead for a first-down run. His running was a true game-changer as he ran nine times for 54 yards and a score.
But his decision-making remains slow at times. On a second-and-long call early, he had James White in the flat open but went to him late and inaccurately. He was called for a delay-of-game penalty at the line of scrimmage to throw the brakes on some early progress. On a third-and-long he held, held, held and eventually ate a sack.
Those plays are going to happen when Newton has the weapons he does. But he's their best player. They need him to be at his best all the time. Beginning of the game. (They haven't scored offensively in the first quarter in 2020.) End of the game. (They have had three fourth-quarter comeback opportunities this year and are 0-for-3.) If not, they're up against it. Newton wasn't consistent Sunday, and he made his worst play at the most inopportune time. The result? Familiar.