WR Emmanuel Sanders says NFL ‘has gotten soft’ after taunt draws flag, costs Broncos

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders accepted responsibility for costing his team a potential touchdown with a taunting penalty Sunday while also taking a shot at the NFL for weakening the game.

“It feels like the league has gotten soft,” Sanders said, according to ESPN. “I am having fun. I didn’t do anything crazy to the guy besides say, ‘I got you on that play.’”

The flag was thrown after Sanders’ 43-yard first quarter catch gave the Broncos a first-and-goal at the Rams’ 1-yard line. Initially, the play was ruled a touchdown, but replay changed the spot of the ball.  

Sanders got up after a catch and pointed a finger directly at Rams cornerback Troy Hill.

Had it been a touchdown catch, the penalty yardage would have been assessed on the kickoff.

The personal foul moved the Broncos back to the 16-yard line, and they ended up settling for a field goal. The Broncos lost 23-20 to the Rams.

The Sanders criticism comes at a time when others are saying the increase in the number of roughing-the-passer penalties this season is also softening the game.

Sanders, in his ninth NFL season, said it is normal for him to point at guys after a big play: “Look at my film, I’ve been pointing at guys all the time and saying, ‘I got you on that play,'" he said.

This was the second taunting penalty of Sanders’ career.

According to Pro Football Reference, there have been 11 taunting penalties in the first six weeks of this season. In 2017, taunting was only flagged 18 times all season.

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