Stats corner: The revival of Steve Smith

Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith, 32, a Pro Bowler in 2005, 2006 and 2008, has been rejuvenated by the arrival of rookie quarterback Cam Newton.

The Newton-to-Smith passing combination is one of the more lethal in the NFL. They have combined for 13 plays of 20 yards or more, which is tied for tops in the league with New England’s Tom Brady and Wes Welker.

New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham have 10 plays of 20 yards or more. Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger has eight such plays with Mike Wallace, and Arizona’s Kevin Kolb has eight with Larry Fitzgerald.

Smith had a 54-yard touchdown catch last week against the Saints and leads the NFL with four receptions of 50-plus yards.

“It’s just been hard work,” Newton said. “A lot of people just look at it [as] ‘What’s Cam going to do? What’s Cam going to do?’ It’s just not me on this team. There were a lot of veterans who took me under their wing and helped me grow on the field and off the field.”