- The Washington Times - Friday, September 9, 2016

The Denver Broncos defense brought the pressure to the Carolina Panthers in the opening night of football.

With 14 quarterback hurries and 8 hits Cam Newton when he dropped back for a pass, the smothering defense was just too much for the offense to handle as the Broncos stole the game with a 21-20 win.

The controversy of the night was the hits to Newton. Some of the hits Newton took directly to the head, and a few of Newton’s teammates took exception.

“Early in the game, a guy took two, three steps and hit him in the head and they didn’t call a penalty,” Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis told ESPN’s David Newton.



On Carolina’s final drive of the game, Newton absorbed two more hits to the head. While Newton was rushing towards the sideline, defensive back Bradley Roby launched himself and made direct contact with Newton’s head. And with 40 seconds remaining in the game, Newton rolled out of the pocket for a pass. As he does so, Broncos defensive back Darian Stewart rushed towards Newton, again hitting him directly in the head. 

A penalty was called on the play, but Newton, who threw the ball out of bounds on the play, was called for intentional grounding, offsetting the penalty.

It was the only call for a hit to the head in the entire game.

“I know he’s the biggest guy on the field, but he’s still the quarterback,” Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said. “We’ll see what some of those (helmet-to-helmet hits) look like. Obviously, we got one of them, but we didn’t get many yards off of it.”

Newton is in fact one of the largest quarterbacks in the NFL at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, but in a league that has taken steps toward protecting its players, it was a troubling sight to see.

Newton was never checked during the game for concussion-like symptoms.

According to a released statement by the NFL, officials concluded it was not necessary to take Newton out of the game. From Ian Rapoport

“There was communication between medical personnel on the Carolina sideline, including the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant, and the two independent certified athletic trainer spotters in the booth. During stoppage in play, while on-field officials were in the process of administrating penalties, the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant and team physician requested video from the spotters and reviewed the play. They concluded there were no indications of a concussion that would require further evaluation and the removal of the player from the game.”

After the game, Newton doesn’t believe that he purposely wasn’t receiving any flags for the hits.

“It’s not my job to question the officials,” Newton said. “I really like this officiating crew. So it wasn’t something that I know they did intentionally, but it’s not fun getting hit in the head.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve not only seen players getting hit in the head without calls, but it isn’t the first time we’ve seen a player continue to play despite the repeated hits to the head. But some members of the Panthers believe that if the officials won’t make the calls, the head hits will only continue.

“We’ve talked about it ad nauseam,” Thomas said. “It doesn’t matter. They ain’t going to change it.”

• Tommy Chalk can be reached at tchalk@washingtontimes.com.

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