'Frustration' fuels Denver Broncos' sideline blowup in loss

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In a season in which the only thing the Denver Broncos can consistently do, it seems, is raise their own frustration level with one loss after another, a brief sideline blowup between defensive tackle Mike Purcell and quarterback Russell Wilson was caught on camera Sunday.

It came early in the fourth quarter of the Broncos' eighth loss of the season. And while both players were quick to dismiss the incident after the Carolina Panthers' 23-10 victory, it was clear the team's seventh loss in the past eight games had taken a toll.

"Frustration,'' Purcell said of the incident. "We all want to spark on something. We are all in this together, period. That's the quarterback of our offense, they're about to take the field. ... Obviously, [the defense wasn't] doing our job, but got to get a spark somewhere. They're about to take the field, that's all it was.''

Purcell had just been flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty during a 26-yard field goal from Panthers kicker Eddy Pineiro with 13 minutes, 33 seconds left in the game. As he went to the sideline, he was seen shouting at Wilson, who responded before Purcell started shouting again.

"I had just got a penalty on a field goal block, frustrated for everything,'' Purcell said. "Frustrated for everything, we didn't do our job on defense ... just not good enough.''

"Mike and I are on the same page,'' Wilson said. "He came off after they kicked a field goal, he was pissed off, he just said, 'We've got, we've got to F'in' go,' and I agree. We're on the same page -- there's no animosity there at all.

"We've got to win. We've got to come out here and have some grit to us, some mentality to us. We've got to win these football games,'' Wilson added. "Those guys are out there battling every play, and offense, we've got to be able to capitalize. So, yeah, there's nothing there at all, me and him -- there's nothing there.''

Broncos players have been asked many times over the past two months if there is a growing rift in the locker room because of the team's offense. The Broncos are the lowest-scoring team in the league -- 14.3 points per game -- and Sunday's loss was the ninth time this season when they've scored 16 or fewer points, the fourth time they've scored 10 or fewer points.

But having surrendered a 100-yard rushing performance as well as a 100-yard receiving effort in each of the past two games -- losses to the Las Vegas Raiders and the Panthers -- some of the Broncos' defensive leaders were quick to point out there is enough blame to go around.

"We didn't play good enough to win, we didn't stop the run, we didn't stop the explosives,'' safety Justin Simmons said. "No way you're going to win games like that.''

"We didn't do enough,'' said linebacker Josey Jewell. "This one was not a good one.''

Simmons said he had spoken to Purcell after the game and said he would talk to Wilson as well.

"I think the chemistry with this group is still great,'' Simmons said. "I think when you put as much into it as you do week in and week out and you don't get the results, it can be frustrating. So as frustrated as everyone is watching, you can imagine how guys are when they're the ones out there trying to put in the work and try to win football games.

"And some of that spills over. ... Those types of things happen in a game. Mike means well ... things aren't clicking for us as a team, not just on one side of the ball. ... Those things are going to happen.''

Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said he didn't see the incident but said after the game he would talk to both players.

"I know they're both competitors. ... We'll get to the bottom of it,'' Hackett said.