Eddie Pells, Associated Press:
Cam Newton’s latest encounter with the Broncos must’ve felt like another trip to the dentist.
....His rematch with the Broncos in Thursday night’s season opener was a brutal affair that ended with a missed field goal and the same outcome as the last time these teams met.
Newton ran for a touchdown and threw for another, but passed for only 16 more yards than Broncos newcomer Trevor Siemian. He remained in the trainer’s room for nearly an hour after the game had ended after being sacked three times, and hit eight more, not counting the punishment he received on his 11 rushing attempts.
Three of those hits were to his head, and Carolina didn’t get one inch of penalty yardage out of them... He probably deserved better.
Pat Graham, AP Sports Writer:
The start of a new season rekindled some old – and troubling – issues for the NFL.
Nobody could attest to that better than Cam Newton.
The Carolina Panthers quarterback was victimized by helmet-to-helmet hits at least three times in a 21-20 loss to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night. Net result of those hits: Zero penalty yards.
Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times:
....The Panthers’ collapse came after a first half in which they seemed capable of doing anything they wanted. Newton was spreading the ball around, mixing in some punishing runs, and had seemingly regained the exuberance that he displayed before the loss in the Super Bowl left him fuming.
That seemed to end when Newton was viciously sacked in the third quarter, enduring a helmet-to-helmet hit from Von Miller at the same time that DeMarcus Ware was slamming into Newton’s lower back. Newton writhed in pain on the sideline while Carolina’s defense was on the field, but he returned after the Broncos were forced into a three-and-out. Whether he was feeling the effects of the hits or Denver’s defense simply tightened up was unclear, but the Panthers’ offense went from dynamic to lifeless.
Kevin Seifert, ESPN
The NFL returned Thursday night with many of its trademark attributes: A close game, some debatable officiating calls and the specter of an undiagnosed concussion.
Some will remember the Denver Broncos' 21-20 victory over the Carolina Panthers for its thrilling conclusion: Panthers place-kicker Graham Gano was wide left on a field goal attempt with 4 seconds remaining.
Others will wonder why Panthers quarterback Cam Newton absorbed upward of five helmet-to-helmet hits, only one of which was penalized by referee Gene Steratore's crew. And many will question why Newton was never observed to have taken a concussion test, and whether his postgame condition will impact the NFL's new series of disciplinary measures for teams that violate the league's concussion protocol.