Rivera can't have it both ways on hits

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera felt Miami defensive end Cameron Wake should have been penalized for his first-quarter hit on Cam Newton that forced the quarterback to call timeout and make sure he hadn't bitten his tongue off.

Rivera didn't feel Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly should have been penalized for his hit on Miami's Richard Matthews in the back of the end zone late in the second quarter. Neither did the officials, who picked up the flag after initially calling it a penalty.

He can't have it both ways.

Here's how I see it.

Both defenders lunged at the offensive player. Both made contact in the head and neck area with their helmets. Under the letter of the law to protect players, both should have been penalties.

Neither was.

Rivera will send the hit on his quarterback to the NFL for clarification.

"I know this, he bit his tongue and he was bleeding a little bit so I'd like to think there was a reason why," Rivera said.

He didn't mention sending Kuechly's hit in.

"Luke hit him in the chest," said Rivera, although there appears to be helmet-to-helmet contact when you slow it down. "He folded over and I think that's where it looked bad is how much his body reacted to being hit."

Back to Newton, he indicated he may have to consider wearing a mouthpiece in the future. That might not be a bad idea as much as he dives forward on runs instead of sliding.

"That's a personal choice," Rivera said. "I know this much. A linebacker, anybody who is going to make contact on an every play basis, I think should wear one."