CHARLOTTE -- A hip injury forced New England Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib out of the game late in his return after a three-game hiatus, leaving the standout defensive back on the sideline as Cam Newton led the Panthers to the decisive drive in a 24-20 win Monday night.
But Talib drew attention early in the contest as he and Panthers receiver Steve Smith went back and forth in verbal spats that escalated to a confrontation that resulted in Talib being flagged for unnecessary roughness.
The two continued their jawing through much of the first quarter, though it subsided following the penalty.
After the game, Talib described the back-and-forth with Smith as "just two competitive guys going at it."
When asked if the two spoke after the game, Talib emphatically replied, "Hell no. Ain't nothing to talk about."
In remarks to reporters last week, Talib foreshadowed the possibility of Smith and him exchanging words, as he noted that Smith has always been a talkative player on the field.
Talib added, "I say a couple words too."
Talib shadowed Smith for much of the game, yielding four catches for 62 yards to the veteran wideout.