Denver (AP) — Safety Rahim Moore's vicious hit on Buffalo wide receiver Donald Jones drew outrage and shoves from the Bills and kudos from his Denver Broncos teammates.
Moore's hit resulted in a 15-yard penalty Saturday night and could produce a fine if the NFL deems the hit crossed the line, although the rookie from UCLA didn't launch himself at his opponent and led with his shoulder as taught.
Jones' head bounced off the ground and his chin strap was pushed up over his mouth. He stayed down for several minutes before getting to his feet and heading to the locker room. Bills coach Chan Gailey said after the Bills' 24-10 loss that Jones wasn't seriously injured.
Moore said he was sorry Jones got hurt but he thought it was a clean hit. If it was dirty, he said, he apologizes.
Jones had cornerback Cassius Vaughn beat by a-half step down the Bills' sideline on a deep pass, but Ryan Fitzpatrick's throw glanced off his fingertips and Moore sliced in and hit him under the chin with his right shoulder.
Moore was flagged for a personal foul on the hit that fired up both teams.
Teammate Brian Dawkins' slapped Moore's shoulder pads in commendation just before Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson shoved Moore in disgust.
Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams gave Moore a helmet-to-helmet tap, then jawed with Johnson, who was held back by Buffalo teammate David Nelson.
The Broncos waved Moore off the field so the scuffle wouldn't escalate.
"At the end of the day, I mean no harm to nobody. I don't want to hurt anybody," Moore said. "I prayed for the dude afterward. Because I really didn't know what was going on. People were tapping my head. People were hitting me. I wasn't sure what was going on."
The Bills found inspiration in the way they stood up for their fallen teammate.
"We are a tight unit and you saw it right there. For someone to come after, take a shot at our guy, that didn't sit well with us," Fitzpatrick said. "We're a team that doesn't like to be pushed around, we're not going to be pushed around by anybody. We thought that was inappropriate the way it went down and we reacted to it."
Fellow Broncos rookie Von Miller said he didn't see the hit downfield but liked Moore's moxie.
"That's the type of football we play; we play aggressive and that just happened," Miller said. "You've got to keep on coming every play. If it happens, it happens. We're not a dirty team by any means, but that's the game of football."
Broncos coach John Fox called the hit "a pretty hefty collision."
"And it was a 15-yard penalty in the officials' eyes, so player safety is a big part of it," Fox said. "Rahim's a rookie, so I'm not going to fault him. I don't think it was helmet to helmet, I'll have to go back and view it, but either way, they viewed it as a penalty."
Moore said he didn't think his hit was illegal.
"I didn't even know I was flagged until I ran to the sideline," he said. "If it was the wrong thing to do, I apologize, but at the end of the day, I mean no harm to nobody."
Moore said his hit was instinctive.
"It was just my reaction, man. I was being a football player," Moore said. "I couldn't really get to the ball to pick it off, which is what I really wanted to do. But my intention was just to hit him. Our coaches want us to be physical, so I'm going to do what I do."
The Broncos drafted Moore in the second round to help them turn around a defense that ranked last in the league in several categories last season, and the toughness he brings is a welcome addition to a team that hasn't reached the playoffs in five years.
Moore said his coaches told him on the sideline: "Keep it up, but be smart at the same time."
"That's what they're looking for," Moore said. "They're looking for a guy who can come in and patrol the back end — and a lot of guys were excited."
So, Moore said he won't change his style.
"I'm trying to send a message that I can play and that I can help this team win," he said.
"I don't want to hurt anybody to where it jeopardizes their season or their career. I know it's a tough sport, and that's what it's all about, but at the end of the day, we've got to look out for each other. I want the guy to be at least able to make it out of bed the next morning."
Notes: Although Fox said, "We haven't named a 1, 2 or a 3," when it comes to his quarterbacks, Kyle Orton obviously has a stranglehold on the starting job. In addition to getting all the work with the first-team in practices, his passer rating in the preseason is a dazzling 135.1. ... Tim Tebow might have a hard time earning the No. 2 slot as Brady Quinn continued his crisp play, leading Denver to a field goal and a touchdown. ... Broncos CB Champ Bailey is covering the slot receiver with Vaughn taking his left cornerback spot when he moves inside.
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