Talib eye poke stirs controversy as Denver Broncos lose to Colts
Broncos lose unbeaten record against Indianapolis as cornerback grabs the headlines with fourth-quarter gouging incident
The Denver Broncos lost their first game of the NFL season on Sunday night, as quarterback Peyton Manning's hopes of avenging last season's play-off defeat to his old team, the Indianapolis Colts, were dashed in a match that ended in controversy after an apparent eye-gouging incident.
It was Manning's team-mate Aqib Talib who grabbed the limelight in the closing stages as he undermined his team's hopes of a dramatic late win after poking Indianapolis tight end Dwayne Allen in the eye.
The incident handed Indianapolis, who were facing a third and seven, a new set of downs and allowed them to run the clock down on a 27-24 win.
Talib's actions were "insanely stupid", says Jay Busbee of Yahoo, "and basically cost his team a chance at victory".
They are also likely to land him in hot water with the authorities. The Bronco's cornerback "will almost certainly hear from the league office this week and will likely face a fine", says Jeff Legwold of ESPN.
He notes that Talib was flagged for a second time just a few plays later for unsportsmanlike conduct for "berating and official". There were also claims that Bronco's linebacker Von Miller dropped his knee on an opponent in the closing stages.
After the game Bronco's coack Gary Kubiak admitted that Talib had lost his cool and urged his players to "handle your business" in the heat of battle.
However, Talib tried to brush off the allegations of a deliberate gouge, which had incensed Sky NFL presenter Neil Reynolds, who called it "disgusting".
The cornerback told USA Today he had "tried to poke his head or something" and claimed he did know what had happened. He later claimed that Allen had acted as if he was in a "car wreck" by falling to the ground after the gouging incident.
But few people agree with the Broncos player. "No matter which way you look at it, Talib's apparent actions were bush league, and based on the footage, he seems to deserve whatever punishment the NFL hands down," says Tyler Conway of Bleacher Report. "No matter how heated the battle is between two teams, there's no excuse for unnecessarily risking a player's safety."