By Zack Kelberman
DENVER (247 SPORTS) – Emmanuel Sanders is pointing fingers (figuratively) after pointing fingers (literally).
Speaking in the wake of Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the star Denver Broncos wide receiver addressed his game-turning taunting penalty, criticizing the NFL for going “soft.”
“I’m having fun,” he said. “I didn’t do anything crazy to the guy besides say, ‘Hey, I got you on that play.’ I pointed my finger at him and he 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. If you go back and you look at my film, I’ve been pointing at guys all the time and saying, ‘I got you on that play.’ It was a great throw by [Broncos QB] Case [Keenum]. I came down with a big play. Emotions are high. It’s not like I walked up to him and head-butted him. But it cost my team. I looked at the scoreboard, we lost by three points. I feel like we could’ve easily punched that ball in and got four points. I guess this loss is on me.”
Sanders was penalized following a long pass from Case Keenum, originally ruled a touchdown, when he began barking at the defender, Rams cornerback Troy Hill, he beat in coverage. Replay showed Sanders was touched down at the one-yard line and the call on the field was overturned. Because the flag was still enforced, a first-and-goal turned into an eventual field goal for Denver in their 23-20 defeat.
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It was a ticky-tack penalty that could have gone either way, but Sanders — a 31-year-old ninth-year veteran — should act like he’s been there before. So says Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, anyway.
“He knows better. I didn’t see what happened, but obviously it was a big penalty for us,” Joseph said. “We went from being on the 1-yard line to the 16-yard line. He can’t do that, he knows that.”
Sanders was among the bright spots on yet another dark afternoon for the 2-4 Broncos, now losers of four straight, finishing with seven catches for 115 yards and a score (that counted). He’ll continue to garner blame for what some perceive as a selfish act, but Sanders insists it was good-natured banter.
“We were just having fun. We were just having fun,” he repeated. “Competitive nature. I don’t mean no harm. Obviously after the game, I walk up to all the guys and say, ‘Hey, good job.’ It’s just being competitive and having fun. I don’t think I did anything too crazy besides point a finger and tell the guy, ‘Hey I got you on that play.’ I don’t see the penalty in that. But I learned from it and like I said, it cost my team. I’ve just got to keep chugging along and don’t do it again.”