(AP) — The NFL said medical officials determined reigning league MVP Cam Newton didn’t need to leave Thursday night’s game against the Denver Broncos despite taking a helmet-to-helmet hit on Carolina’s final series.
Newton remained in the game after the hit from Denver’s Darian Stewart and led the Panthers into field goal range, but Graham Gano missed a 50-yard attempt in Denver’s 21-20 victory.
The NFL released a statement Friday morning saying there was communication between medical personnel on the Carolina sideline, including the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant, and the two independent certified athletic trainer spotters in the booth.
The release also stated that during stoppage in action the play was reviewed and medical officials determined “there were no indications of a concussion that would require further evaluation and the removal of the player from the game.”
Newton took four helmet-to-helmet hits during the physical Super Bowl rematch, including two in which Stewart and linebacker Brandon Marshall left their feet, appearing to launch themselves at Newton. In both situations, the hits ended with helmet-to-helmet contact.
The NFL determined Marshall should have been flagged for his hit on Newton, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.
Dean Blandino, the league’s senior vice president of officiating, and his staff reviewed the play and determined on Friday that Marshall should’ve been flagged for delivering a hit to Newton’s head after the quarterback had released the football, The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the NFL did not publicly comment on the details of its review.
Both Marshall and Stewart could face fines.
The hit the league referenced in its release Friday occurred with 36 seconds left in the game was by Stewart.
On second-and-10 from the Carolina 47, Newton rolled out to his left and released a pass into the flat as he was being tackled and linebacker Shaquil Barrett draped around his ankles. As Newton released the ball and was going down, Stewart hit him in the head with the crown of his helmet.
The quarterback remained on the ground for several seconds while tight end Greg Olsen and other teammates attended to him as officials sorted out the flags on the field. Newton got to his feet and stayed in the game.
There were offsetting penalties on the play: Newton was charged for intentional grounding and Stewart for roughing the passer. Newton played four more snaps, including completing a 16-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin to give the Panthers a chance to win.
After the game, the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton said it isn’t his job to question the officials and doesn’t feel like the Broncos hit him in the head intentionally.
By STEVE REED, AP Sports Writer
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