Early in the third quarter of the Carolina Panthers’ 31-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw an interception down the middle of the field. That part of the play wasn’t in dispute.
What came next though ... well, there’s still a lot of anger about it.
After Panthers safety Colin Jones picked off the underthrown pass, he darted up the right side of the field and towards the end zone. Both teams were scrambling, trying to either free up Jones or cut him down.
But in that chaos, a different player got cut down instead – and the Panthers’ Thomas Davis was the man responsible.
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Davis crushed Packers wide receiver Davante Adams on a cutback block, concussing him and knocking him out of the rest of the game. The Packers, understandably, were visibly angry on the sidelines, and – with Adams now in the concussion protocol – that seething lingered after the game.
“I was pretty (ticked) off at first when I saw the replay, how unnecessary it was,” receiver Randall Cobb said. “(Devante) was pretty mad he couldn’t come back in the game.
“I’m just glad to see him walking.”
Immediately after the hit, Davis looked remorseful on the sidelines, running to the bench and lowering his head into his hands as if in prayer. That makes sense considering Davis is both compassionate and a former Walter Payton Man of the Year, an annual award given to one NFL player for his exceptional play and community service.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he didn’t see the play, but the opinion of his team was obvious.
“From the reaction on the sideline a lot of guys felt it was a dirty hit,” McCarthy said. “I’ll have a comment on it after I see the video.”
This isn’t the first time Davis has been responsible for a questionable hit. Earlier this season against Tampa Bay, Davis was fined $48,620 for a hit on receiver Adam Humphries that drew an unnecessary roughness penalty. Davis’ hit on Adams also drew that same foul, but he was not ejected from the game for targeting.
After that Davis hit, he posted to Instagram that, “Not a single part of this play was dirty! I love playing this game but if this was illegal then it’s time for me to retire!”
Rodgers, who threw the interception on the play, said after the game that he expects the NFL to discipline Davis.
“He’s a repeat offender, so I’m sure the league will deal with him,” Rodgers said of Davis. “I think it was an unnecessary hit.
“Unfortunately, if I throw a better ball, it doesn’t happen.”
Davis was not in the Panthers locker room after the game. A league spokesman confirmed the NFL is reviewing the hit to see about a possible 1-game suspension for Davis.