Helmet-to-helmet hits on Cam Newton resulted in just one penalty on the Denver Broncos during their 21-20 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Thursday.
According to a league source, of the handful of plays that resulted in hits to Newton’s head, there should have been at least one more flag thrown. That play, a helmet-to-helmet hit by linebacker Brandon Marshall, in which the defender launched himself at Newton, was obviously a missed call, the source said, and should have been a penalty.
However, the hit by Von Miller, where he made contact with Newton’s head as he was being sacked by DeMarcus Ware, was more of a judgement call, the league source said. There’s no question his helmet made contact with Newton’s helmet, and if it had been called for a penalty, the league would have been fine with it, the source said. However, after looking at the hit again on Friday, Dean Blandino, the head of officiating, felt that since Ware was in the process of tackling Newton and Miller was shedding his blocker, it’s unstandable the hit was not flagged.
On Friday, the NFL and Panthers coach Ron Rivera stated that the quarterback underwent proper protocol in determining whether he suffered a concussion on a fourth-quarter hit by Darian Stewart that sent him hard to the ground.
A total of two minutes, 22 seconds elapsed from when Newton was hit before the next play started. During that time — while officials sorted out offsetting penalties — medical personnel spoke with Newton and requested to see video of the hit, according to a league source. They also observed Newton the entire time before determining there was no indication he was suffering signs of a concussion.
After the game, the medical staff spoke with Newton again in the locker room, on the bus to the airport, on the plane and, eventually, upon the team’s arrival in Charlotte, North Carolina. As of 2 p.m. ET, Newton still was not displaying any symptoms of a concussion, a league source said.