Newton set the NFL rushing touchdown record for quarterbacks on December 4, 2011, rushing for his 13th touchdown of the season in the fourth quarter against Tampa Bay.
On December 24, 2011, in a 48–16 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Newton threw for 171 yards and 3 touchdowns and also rushed for 65 yards and a score.
He was the first reigning Heisman Trophy winner to go first overall since Carson Palmer in 2003. 1 selection after Tucker Frederickson (1965), Bo Jackson (1986), and Aundray Bruce (1988).
During the 2011 NFL lockout, he spent up to 12 hours a day at the IMG Madden Football Academy in Bradenton, Florida, spending up to two hours per day doing one-on-one training with fellow Heisman Trophy winner and ex-Panthers quarterback Chris Weinke.
In his second career game, a 30–23 home loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, Newton broke his own record, set the weekend previously, with 432 yards passing, throwing and rushing for a touchdown.
broke the NFL record of 827 set by Kurt Warner in the 2000 season and stood as the most by any quarterback in the first two weeks of the season until New England's Tom Brady broke the mark again later in the day with 940.