You’ll recall that the opening game of the NFL season on Thursday was notable for the sheer number of times the reigning NFL MVP, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, was struck in the head by Broncos defenders.
Well, Newton survived, and it’s the Broncos now saying the Panthers got away with murder.
Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe told Bleacher Report the Panthers offensive line spent the game in flagrant defiance of the rules governing blocking, though mostly without penalty.
Cutting out legs, grabbing the facemask, grabbing our pads, tackling our legs…they just let these offensive linemen get away with murder. Von (Miller) was in a full nelson one play, being blocked with a full nelson on one play. It was just on a random pass-rush play, the guy has him in a full nelson. That’s not holding? That’s not anything? There’s no call there whatsoever?
The Panthers offense was called for seven of Carolina’s eight penalties. There was one holding call, one facemask call and one unnecessary roughness call to go along with a couple false starts, a taunting call and an intentional grounding. The Broncos offensive line had just one penalty called against it, a holding call in the third quarter.
Overall the Broncos were penalized four times for 22 yards, and Carolina was penalized eight times for 85 yards. Denver won the game, 21-20.
Wolfe was not complaining about a difference in penalty yardage, however. He says the referees put defensive linemen in danger by not flagging offensive linemen for certain kinds of dangerous holds.
They talk about player safety, they have to start calling holding calls,” Wolfe said. “If an offensive lineman has you inside, he won, OK, great. But whenever he is outside of my (stuff) or grabbing the back of my shoulder pads and getting thrown down and dragged down, that’s when people get hurt. You’re not protecting us at that point. You’re not looking out for our best interests and that’s not just me.
Without being in the trenches yourself, it’s hard to tell if the Panthers are uniquely dirty, that officiating crew was unusually persmissive, or if this is merely a case of a Broncos player illustrating the old axiom about line play in football: They could call holding on every play if they wanted to.
It’s a shame we most likely won’t get to see these two teams play each other again, though. This is starting to feel like a division rivalry.