From Charlotte to Chicago, NFL emotions boil over
A heavy dose of testosterone temporarily replaced professionalism in the NFL from Chicago to Charlotte.
Blowout games brought out the worst in some players on Sunday - and not just the losers, but in the winners as well.
In Chicago, Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford got upset after his third interception and grabbed Bears cornerback D.J. Moore by the helmet. Stafford threw him down, setting off a confrontation involving several players. The Bears won 37-13 but Moore was ejected from the game.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera - a former Bear - said Monday he was ''embarrassed'' by the actions of both his team and the Tennessee Titans. The teams combined for 21 penalties for 191 yards, including four personal fouls and three unnecessary roughness calls in Tennessee's 30-3 victory in Charlotte.
Rivera said he was upset over the ''chippiness'' of both teams, particularly in the final two minutes in a game high on trash talk and low on sportsmanship.
''When the game is that situation just play it out - stop talking,'' Rivera said. ''You're winning, great. If you're losing, stop being frustrated and do your job. And that goes for both teams. I don't want to speak for coach (Mike) Munchak, but I think both teams got chippy at the end. This is professional football, act like professional football players whether you're winning or you're losing.''
Players involved in the altercations could face possible fines. An NFL spokesman said that each play will be reviewed individually.
Rivera said the lack of sportsmanship bothered him.
''It really does, because this game is about competition and competing and being the best,'' Rivera said. ''It's not about all of that other stuff that goes on. There should be more pride in winning and losing than I saw from both teams. That's just my opinion.''
Rivera removed receiver Steve Smith for the final play after he ripped the helmet off cornerback Alterraun Verner while making a block.
Smith was penalized for holding, but nothing else. That came after a play in which Titans defensive end William Hayes and Panthers offensive tackle Jordan Gross were flagged for personal fouls on the same play after exchanging late shoves.
''Most of our losses this year have at least been where I felt like we went down fighting,'' Gross said. ''We went down fighting in the end but not the kind of fighting you want to do.''
Panthers wide receiver Legedu Naanee said it was the dirtiest game he's played in during his five NFL seasons.
''That was the worst I've been a part of,'' Naanee said. ''They were talking throughout the game and with them talking and us not executing it built up for both teams.''
Rivera said he pulled Smith out of the game late because his receiver was frustrated.
Just a few plays earlier, Smith had seen a Titans player spear one of his teammates, to which Smith - who at 5-foot-9 does not back down to anyone - seemed to take exception.
''I think Steve went to make a physical block and the guy reacted and they got into a little bit of skirmish and I wanted to alleviate the situation,'' Rivera said. ''I would have done that to anybody.''
In fact, he did.
Earlier in the game, Rivera took defensive end Charles Johnson out for a couple of plays after he shoved offensive tackle David Stewart in the face with both hands, drawing a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness and giving the Titans an automatic first down after they'd been stopped on third-and-15.
What the referees didn't see was Stewart head-butt Johnson before Johnson retaliated.
Regardless, Rivera said, ''We can't have that on a football field.''
In Chicago, Moore didn't show much remorse after he left the game.
''When you are going after my livelihood, my neck, and you're trying to hurt me, I just can't let that go,'' Moore said after Stafford's actions.
Stafford said he wasn't trying to injure Moore, but that he was trying to get the cornerback off him.
''I guess he didn't like the way I did it,'' Stafford said. ''He wanted to ask me about it.''
There was also some tension earlier in the game.
Chicago's Jay Cutler had his helmet ripped off by Ndamukong Suh after a run, and he got slammed to the ground by defensive tackle Nick Fairley on a late hit in the third quarter.
Emotions were riding high in the Meadowlands as well.
Jets coach Rex Ryan apologized after a video surfaced of him using an obscenity while angrily responding to a fan at halftime of their 37-16 blowout loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday night.
''I obviously, you know, made a mistake,'' Ryan said Monday. ''I was full of emotion and just popped off, and obviously I know I represent the National Football League and I know I represent the Jets. I know it was a mistake and I apologize. This is who I am. I made a mistake.''
The NFL is looking into that situation.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was on the winning end of that game, but he, too, was under fire after he reportedly used a vulgar phrase while coming off the field after the game. The New York Post reported that Belichick had his arm around his son, Stephen, when he made the remark regarding the Jets' defense.
''I don't remember it that way,'' Belichick said at his news conference Monday.
AP Sports Writers Dennis Waszak Jr. in Florham Park, N.J. and Andrew Seligman in Chicago contributed to this report.