An Emmanuel Sanders taunting penalty late in the first quarter could very well have been the difference between a Denver win and loss. The Broncos’ wide receiver caught a 44-yard catch Sunday over Rams’ cornerback Troy Hill that was initially ruled a touchdown. Sanders then approached Hill pointing a finger in his face as an exploitation tactic. Sanders earned himself an unsportsmanlike penalty and upon further review, the play was ruled down at the 1-yard line, with the penalty bumping the Broncos back to the 16. They would have to settle for a field goal after two rushes and an incompletion.
The Broncos lost 23-20, falling to 2-4.
If you can’t tackle a quarterback without taking him out to dinner and a movie first, you certainly can’t expose a defender to this degree. Taunting is a lame rule and no one would have given two shits if it wasn’t called, but rules are rules and that was your prototypical taunt.
After the game, the two-time Pro Bowler voiced his disapproval of a call he deemed “soft.”
“To me, it feels like the league has gotten soft,” Sanders said, via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic.
“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.’
“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.”
Said Sanders: “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. … I’ll learn from it. … I’ll keep chugging along.”
The penalty marred a milestone day for Sanders, who secured the 500th catch of his career on a seven catch, 115 yard day.
[h/t Total Pro Sports]