Oakland defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and the Raiders stepped up their attack on Carolina’s Cam Newton after the Panthers knocked their starting quarterback from the game Sunday, Kelly told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Raiders starter Carson Palmer left with a rib injury after a hit by Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy that drew an unnecessary roughness penalty. Palmer did not return.
“You don’t ever want to see your quarterback get put out of the game,” Kelly said, according to the Chronicle. “So, personally, we try to put their quarterback out of the game. You don’t try to do nothing illegal, but you see someone put your quarterback out, it kind of makes you want to put theirs out.”
The stats back up Kelly’s claim. In the first quarter, the Raiders hurried Newton five times and knocked him down twice, including a sack. But in the second quarter, after Hardy’s hit on Palmer, the Raiders hurried Newton eight times. Included were seven hits, five knockdowns and one sack.
Oakland finished with 20 hurries, a Charlotte Observer review of the film concluded, including 14 hits and a total of 11 knockdowns. The 20 hurries were the most in at least six games for the Panthers, who allowed an average of fewer than 13 hurries in the previous five.
“I wish (Kelly) wouldn’t have said that,” Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said Monday. “I get the idea of wanting to play hard and make things even but again, we shouldn’t talk about that. We should move on and play hard and see what happens.
“I don’t want to say I noticed anything as much as I thought that Cam took some shots.”
One physical play that Newton took offense to was a hurry for Oakland safety Mike Mitchell. Mitchell blitzed on a short pass to Brandon LaFell in the fourth quarter, and after Newton had released the ball, Mitchell drove the quarterback into the ground.
Newton thought there should have been a flag, and he stood up quickly, yelled at referee Jerome Boger and and made contact, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
“Usually when you throw the ball they release, but in that particular time I felt as if I threw the ball and he’s still finishing the hit and drove me into the ground,” Newton said Sunday. “Out of frustration and me seeing the umpire right there, I questioned his decision not to throw the flag.”
Though contact with an official was reported to be an automatic ejection, a league spokesman said the decision to eject a player lies with the official. Section 12, Rule 3, Article 1 of the NFL rulebook states that unnecessary physical contact with a game official “may result in disqualification,” and that it must be reported to the commissioner.
A league spokesman said no fines have been issued yet for Week 16 games. The league typically announces player fines on Friday afternoons.
While the statistics back Kelly’s assertion, the Panthers’ offensive line played a role. The Panthers were starting a backup center and had to replace rookie left guard Amini Silatolu, who left early with a dislocated wrist.
“When you’re down to who’s your third and fourth guys at that position, that’s going to be tough,” Rivera said. “I also think (Oakland) did a nice job in terms of attacking. Knowing that we’ve had a couple guys that are relatively new at their positions, they attacked the line, and there was a lot of pressure on our guys. You have to give them credit as well.”
He was not asked directly about Kelly’s comment, but Newton brushed off a question Sunday about the game being one of the chippiest he’s been a part of.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s just football being football,” Newton said. “It’s a collision sport and for us, we have great guys on the offensive line, and it wasn’t like it was intentional that they weren’t blocking the guys.
“I could have done a better job getting the football out. Most of the time I was hot. They were bringing a lot of pressure and that was successful for the Raiders. We played a hell of a bunch that came out and wanted to be physical.”
Distributed by MCT Information Services