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Blandino: Ref felt hit on Cam wasn't 'forcible contact'

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  • By Jeremy Bergman NFL.com
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Cam Newton was at the center of yet another penalty dispute on Monday night.

The Panthers quarterback was noticeably upset in the second quarter of Carolina's win over the Redskins after referee Walt Coleman didn't flag linebacker Trent Murphy for unnecessary roughness after he seemed to hit Newton's helmet when attempting a tackle on the sliding quarterback.

Coleman later said that no flag was thrown because Murphy did not initiate "forcible contact" with Newton.

NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino went on Tuesday's edition of NFL Total Access to clarify Coleman's ruling further.

"The word forcible is in the rulebook, it does add a layer of judgment. And why it's in there is you're trying to avoid having 15-yard penalties on incidental contact," Blandino explained in his weekly "Official Review" segment. "So forcible is something that isn't incidental.

"And when you look at the play and it's a close play. Remember, the quarterback who becomes a runner loses quarterback protection but still has unnecessary roughness protection so at this point if the quarterback starts his slide before contact is imminent by that defender, he can't be contacted to any part of his body. If he starts his slide late, he can be contacted to the body but he can't be contacted to the head and neck area.

"If you watch this at full speed, and we have to remember, the referee gets one look at it full speed and then we get to analyze it from all these different angles. It's a close play, Walt felt that the player went over the top, that it was a late slide, that the contact to the head was incidental. You watch the replay in slow motion, it's certainly debatable either way, there is contact to the head, referee felt it wasn't forcible, that's why the flag was not thrown in that situation."

This brand of controversy isn't new for Newton. After he took multiple helmet-to-helmet hits from Broncos defenders in Week 1, a point was made to clarify when the big-bodied quarterback deserves and loses the protections of the position.

Blandino said at the time, "It's basically the posture will dictate his protection. So if he's in running posture, ball tucked, advancing it as a runner, he's treated like a runner and he doesn't get special protection."

Cam and coach Ron Rivera have also made complaints that he doesn't get the veteran calls that his less mobile contemporaries do.

Coleman and Blandino's rulings this week will likely not change the quarterback's position on the matter.

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