Note: All quotes obtained by writer.
Oakland Raiders defenders took exception to a big hit on their quarterback from the Carolina Panthers in a 17-6 loss on Sunday, and responded with rough play—and tough talk—directed at the Panthers' quarterback.
Panthers defensive tackle Greg Hardy drew a penalty with 2:06 left in the first quarter for his helmet-to-ribs hit on Carson Palmer. It sent the Raiders' quarterback to the sidelines, to the locker room and eventually to a local hospital for further tests. X-rays at Bank of America Stadium were negative for fractures of Palmer's ribs.
Matt Leinart replaced Palmer with third-stringer Terrelle Pryor, also taking a handful of snaps.
“You take our guy out, we're going to go and try to take your guy out,” Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said of Oakland's pursuit of Newton. “We're not out to hurt someone, but when that happens…”
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton faced a more ferocious rush after that—and drew a penalty of his own for disrespectfully addressing official Jerome Boger in the fourth quarter after he'd been hit.
Newton apologized to Boger after the game and again in a post-game press conference. Newton was one of several players involved in a post-play scuffle following Kelly's sack of Newton in the first quarter. Newton appeared to kick Kelly as Kelly celebrated over him, something Newton denied having done purposely.
"I realize it looked like I kicked him, but I was just trying to get up as fast as I could to get the next play," Newton said.
“He kicked me,” Kelly said. “I guess he thought I was trying to do something to his leg, but I don't play like that. How are you going to react if someone kicks you? Are you just going to take it?”
Oakland called a couple of safety blitzes, most effectively from Mike Mitchell, who hurried Newton twice and delivered hits after the throw in both cases.
After Mitchell's second big hit on Newton, the Panthers' quarterback sprang from the ground to argue with Boger, making contact Boger later said was incidental.
"It was just in the heat of the moment," Newton said. "I apologized so the next time we see him we'll be on good terms."
Boger's original call was for bumping a referee, which carries an automatic ejection.
Either way, Newton felt there was a little extra mustard in Mitchell's follow-throughs.
“I don't think he likes to get hit,” said Mitchell, in his fourth season out of Ohio. “He was doing a lot of complaining. This is full-speed tackle football, man. That's all that was.”
Mitchell praised Pryor's job on the scout team last week for giving Oakland's defense a good look at Newton, whom they faced for the first time on Sunday. Mitchell said he felt Pryor, in his second season out of Ohio State, was faster than Newton.
Mitchell also said he felt Newton's size—6'5", 245 pounds—might have intimidated college opponents during his short, but championship-caliber, college career at Auburn, but not so in the NFL.
Newton is “a tough guy,” Mitchell said.
I gave him some good shots. He's a good player. Physically, he's interesting to play against, because I've seen him only really playing in college. When you're that big and you're going against 18-year-olds, I guess that can be scary, when you're young. In this league, guys aren't going to be afraid to hit him.