DENVER – Peyton Manning wasn't about to let what he perceived to be a dirty hit by Houston Texans safety D.J. Swearinger go unnoticed.
The Broncos quarterback ran to the end zone as soon as Emmanuel Sanders caught 29-yard touchdown in the final seconds of the first half Saturday night to go facemask-to-facemask with Swearinger, who one play prior had delivered a hit that knocked receiver Wes Welker from the game.
The two players exchanged some unprintable curse words, but Manning was clearly the aggressor.
"I'm glad that I made a Hall of Famer mad, you know?" Swearinger told USA TODAY Sports.
Manning has been penalized 60 times in the regular season or postseason in his NFL career, but never for taunting. His previous offenses include 34 delay of game flags, 14 false starts, eight intentional groundings and one hold.
Late Saturday night, Manning wasn't apologizing for this new addition to his rap sheet.
"I think if you're going to get one, that's a good time to get one," Manning said.
Swearinger said Manning had approached him one play prior, after Swearinger's hit on Welker. The safety led with his shoulder, but collided with Welker's head. Swearinger received a 15-yard personal foul penalty. Manning's penalty was also worth 15 yards, but was assessed later.
"I'm obviously concerned about Wes and never like seeing him come out of the game with a potential blow to the head," Manning said. "He had one of those last year that kept him out a while. Fifteen yards with five seconds left in the half. It can't you that much, right?"
Welker left the game and was diagnosed with a concussion, his third in 10 months after suffering two late last season. Broncos head coach John Fox refused to speculate Saturday night to when Welker might be cleared to return.
Welker would not have played in Thursday's preseason finale anyway. The Broncos open the regular season in 15 days, against Indianapolis.
"The biggest thing on him is of course player safety," Fox said.
Manning and Swearinger have a little history stemming from the three days of joint practices the Texans and Broncos held this week. It was Swearinger, the second-year safety, who picked off Manning during a two-minute drill in practice on Wednesday. Swearinger told reporters after that practice that the interception got the Broncos frustrated, and a skirmish soon followed.
"I get a lot of people mad at me. That's how I've been my whole life," Swearinger said.
Manning stayed out of the fray during the practice scrum, but made sure he was at the center of it when it mattered Saturday night. That Manning was the one in Swearinger's face after the hit on Welker won't be forgotten by his teammates.
"The fact that Peyton is addressing the situation, that means he's got the backs of his teammates," Sanders said.
Texans coach Bill O'Brien said he would need to look at replays to determine if Swearinger deserved the flag. Swearinger is confident his hit was clean because he led with his shoulder, not with his helmet.
"I led with my shoulder, that's the only thing I could do. [Welker] is a short guy," Swearinger said. "I led with my shoulder and the results are the results. That's all I could do on the play."