CHARLOTTE — Frustration.

Down 20-3 in the fourth quarter staring down their seventh loss in the past eight games, Mike Purcell wanted to provide a spark.

Purcell’s spark, however, was caught on national television.

Walking off the field following a Panther’s field goal — in which Purcell got an unnecessary roughness penalty that he attributed to “frustration” — Denver’s defensive tackle went over to Russell Wilson on the sideline and appeared to yell at him.

“Frustration,” Purcell said about his encounter with Wilson on the sideline. “We want a 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 we let up a touchdown, we weren’t doing our job. Got to get a spark somewhere. They’re about to take the field, so that’s all it was.”

While the message came out of frustration, the message to his quarterback wasn’t simply the word frustration.

“He came off after they kicked the field goal. He was pissed off. He just said ‘We got to F’ing go.’ I agree,” Wilson said after Denver’s 23-10 loss to the Panthers.

“Me and him are on the same page,” Wilson continued. “There’s no animosity there. We’re on the same page. 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 be able to win these football games. Those guys are out there battling every play. On offense, we’ve got to be able to capitalize. There’s nothing there at all. Me and him, there was nothing there.”

As Purcell walked off the field, he quickly adjusted his path as if Wilson had got his attention. That wasn’t the case, according to Purcell. Wilson didn’t say anything to him to spark the heated message.

“I just got the penalty on field goal block. Frustrated from everything,” Purcell added. “We didn’t do our job on defense. Hats off to them. They ran the ball. Just not good enough.”

Purcell echoed Wilson’s sentiment that the two are on the same page.

“I’ve talked to him. It comes from a place of love. We’re all in this together. We’re all brothers,” Purcell said. “A sparks got to come from somewhere. That’s a leader of our offense, so they’re about to take the field so that’s all it is.”

Nathaniel Hackett was standing just in front of the two during the exchange on the sideline.

“I didn’t see it,” Hackett stated. “I know they are both competitors. I know Mike wants to win. He’s going to do whatever he can to try and get the team fired up. Not sure. We’ll get to the bottom of it.”

While Wilson had his helmet on preparing to go on the field, Denver fumbled the kickoff, which kept Wilson on the sideline even longer as the Panthers covered the ball.

However, the following series, Denver’s offense had their best drive of the game, going 77 yards in 14 plays and capping it off with a touchdown. There’s a case to be made Purcell’s message worked.

But, it was too little too late as that was Denver’s only touchdown on the day.


Zac Stevens was born and raised in Denver, went to the University of Denver and now covers the Denver Broncos. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from DU in 2014, Zac worked for the Cleveland Browns as a remote scout. He then jumped straight into the journalism industry at the beginning of 2016 covering the reigning world-champion Broncos and joined DNVR soon after. Catch him on Twitter @ZacStevensDNVR and daily on the DNVR Broncos podcast as the co-host.