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Ref says he didn’t see forcible contact to the head on Cam’s slide


The Panthers were angry on Monday night when Washington’s Trent Murphy hit quarterback Cam Newton in the head as Newton was sliding on the ground. Murphy wasn’t flagged, but Newton was, for taunting, because he got up and flipped the ball in Murphy’s direction.

After the game referee Walt Coleman said he thought they got it right.

“Well, what I saw was that Cam slid late, and the defender went over the top,” Coleman said. “I didn’t see any forcible contact with the head. OK, if they slide late, they can be contacted, but they still can’t be contacted forcibly in the head. And so what we ruled was that he slid late but there was no forcible contact with the head -- that he just went over the top.”

The replay appeared to show exactly the contact Coleman didn’t see, and Gerry Austin, the former official who now works as a rules analyst for ESPN, said on the broadcast that it should have been flagged. Hits to the head are not reviewable, however, so if Coleman and his fellow officials missed it live, they couldn’t do anything about it.

Newton has complained in the past that he doesn’t get the same protection other quarterbacks get, but after Monday night’s game he put the focus on himself, saying he was wrong to hurt his team with a taunting penalty after the hit.

“I’m not going to beat a dead horse. I just can’t retaliate in that way; I’m better than that, I know I am,” Newton said. “I can’t jeopardize that type of play for my team.”

Newton shouldn’t have reacted that way, but it sure looked like it should have been penalized. Even if the ref didn’t see it.