Of the four helmet-to-helmet hits the Broncos inflicted on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton last week, Brandon Marshall’s was the most blatant because he launched himself.
But the linebacker said that just because they made a handful of — by definition — illegal plays, that doesn’t mean they’re dirty.
“We’re not dirty,” Marshall said, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. “When I think of dirty, I think of stepping on somebody’s ankle at the bottom of a pile [or] twisting somebody around. Stuff like that. We just play hard, man. We hit hard. We play fast. We play faster than any defense in the league.
“Just because we hit Cam in the head a couple of times, that doesn’t make us dirty. Look at some of the dirty plays in the league. There are a lot of dirty players, and that’s not our M.O.”
If it happened once, it would be easy to dismiss it as a tackler missing. When it happened over and over in the second half, it’s harder to dismiss because Newton was not standing still.
“The guy is running at me, there’s nobody around and I leave my coverage — that’s how important it is,” Marshall said. “I leave my coverage just to try to hit him. . . . The guy, he ran the ball 11 times for, what, 54 yards? That’s a good day for a quarterback in my opinion.
“We were just playing ball. Speed of the game. Dirty is intentional.”
Marshall knows he’s going to get fined, and he should after launching himself at Newton. And until the refs start calling it and the league starts enforcing it’s mandate for player safety, there’s no reason for other teams to not follow suit.