The Carolina Panthers’ frustrations boiled over Sunday in the person of wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who flung his helmet and yelled at a couple of coaches after being taken out of the game in the second half.
Benjamin, who had not caught a pass at the time of his outburst, ended up catching two passes – including a 44-yard touchdown reception – in the Panthers’ 35-32 loss to the Oakland Raiders.
“It’s an emotional game. It wasn’t a big deal, just emotion,” Benjamin said of his tantrum.
Benjamin, who had injured his shoulder earlier in the second half, dismissed the notion that he was upset over his lack of involvement in the offense.
“It wasn’t really that. I just wanted to be on the field, really,” he said. “Once I hurt my shoulder, I think they thought my shoulder was messing with me. But I wanted to play.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said trainers wanted to check Benjamin’s shoulder.
“They wanted to get him out right there and make sure he’s all right and he wanted to keep trying to push himself through it,” Rivera said. “Kelvin and I just talked about that and I told him, ‘Hey, I appreciate you being passionate.’ You’ve just got to learn to control it.”
Benjamin said despite soreness in his shoulder, he didn’t want to come out of the game.
“It’s pain. You feel it,” he said. “But like I said, I wanted to be out there with my team.”
Benjamin was involved in another key moment after the Raiders pulled even at 32 in the fourth quarter. On third-and-10 from the Panthers’ 31, Benjamin caught a Cam Newton pass and ran out of bounds a yard shy of the first-down marker.
“I knew exactly where I was at. I tried to reach for it,” Benjamin said. “I went to the sideline so fast, I couldn’t (get to the sticks).”
Facing a fourth-and-1 from the Carolina 40 with 5:15 remaining, Rivera said he was tempted to go for it. The Panthers ultimately punted, and the Raiders drove 82 yards for Sebastian Janikowki’s game-winning field goal.
“I thought we could get a good punt, get them down there,” Rivera said. “We still had three timeouts and that’s what I was working with.”