CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The Broncos redefined their image last season. Dogged by criticism as a soft team, the Broncos boasted the NFL's top defense. It came with a price. Denver ranked third in on-field fines a year ago, behind the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Broncos felt the league's wrath on Wednesday for their physical play as linebacker Brandon Marshall ($24,309) and safety Darian Stewart ($18,231) were fined for hits on reigning MVP Cam Newton.
Marshall's fine, first reported by Denver7, resulted from his launching into Newton on Thursday night, striking him in the helmet. Marshall anticipated the fine because he left his feet on the hit. Stewart was docked for lowering his head into Newton on Carolina's final drive. While Marshall was not penalized, officials flagged Stewart for roughing the passer.
Hits by Von Miller and Bradley Roby also remained under review. The Broncos have received a wave of criticism nationally and from Carolina fans specifically that they are dirty.
"It's not going to stop me from being aggressive. I just have to be smarter next time," Stewart said. "We hear what everyone says about us. But we are not going to stop being physical. It's what we do. That's what has us number one. They are fans. They have a right to their opinion. But we have a job."
This marks the the Broncos' third fine in three weeks. Cornerback Bradley Roby was fined $24K for a hit on a defenseless Los Angeles Rams receiver. He told Denver7 he is appealing. Broncos coach Gary Kubiak has defended his defense repeatedly over the last few days.
"We play hard," Kubiak said.