Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was hit with a taunting penalty that may have cost his team a touchdown — and he’s not happy about it.
Sanders said it’s just another example of the league going “soft.”
The play occurred with 1:47 left in the first quarter of the Rams-Broncos game in Denver. Broncos quarterback delivered a 43-yard strike to Sanders to the Rams 1-yard line.
Sanders got up, walked toward defender Troy Hill, and pointed a finger at him. It was an obvious unsportsmanlike penalty for taunting, as the league defines it: “Using baiting or taunting acts or words that may engender ill will between teams,” according to the NFL rules.
Lol Emmanuel Sanders with the most obvious taunting penalty ever…
And he was ruled down at the 1, so Broncos had to go back to the 16 and settled for a field goal. pic.twitter.com/Ao27rhq7gO
— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) October 14, 2018
So, instead of first-and-goal from the 1, the Broncos were first-and-10 from the 16 after the 15-yard penalty. The team failed to punch it in and had to settle for a field goal by Brandon McManus to cut the lead to 6-3.
The Rams went on to win 23-20 and stay undefeated at 6-0. They are the league’s only unbeaten team after the Chiefs lost a 43-40 thriller to the Patriots Sunday night.
— 9NEWS Sports Denver (@9NEWSSports) October 15, 2018
Since it was so early in the game, it’s hard to say one play so early in the contest changed the outcome. There’s no guarantee that the Broncos would have scored a touchdown even with the ball at the 1. But Sanders was clearly not happy with the call.
“To me, honestly, I feel like the league is getting soft,” Sanders said after the game, reported ESPN. “I’m having fun. I didn’t do anything crazy to the guy besides say, ‘I got you on that play,’ pointing my finger at him. [The official] threw the flag, which is crazy because I feel like I’ve been in the league nine years and I’ve been pointing at guys. Go back and look at my film, I’ve been pointing at guys all the time and saying, ‘I got you on that play.'”
However, given that the rules are what they are, Sanders took responsibility for it.
“It was a great throw by Case. I came down with a big play, emotions are high. … It’s not like I walked up to him and head-butted him or something crazy. But it cost my team,” Sanders said.
Sanders paced Denver with seven receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown.
“When I look at the scoreboard — we lost by three points. I feel like we could have easily punched that ball in, got four [more] points. I don’t see the penalty in that,” Sanders said. “I’ll learn from it. … I’ll keep chugging along.”
His coach, Vance Joseph, offered no excuses for Sanders on that play.
“He knows better, he knows better, I didn’t see what happened. … He can’t do that. He knows that,” Joseph said of Sanders, according to ESPN.
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