Broncos LB Von Miller 2012
The Broncos' Von Miller, above, and Kevin Vickerson were each fined for hits Sunday on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. (Denver Post file)

To understand how the NFL tilts its rules in favor of the offensive players, take the case of Broncos linebacker Von Miller.

On the first play of the game Sunday at Carolina, an unsuspecting Miller was pursuing a screen play when he got blown up on a blindside hit by receiver Steve Smith. The official initially threw a flag against Smith for unnecessary roughness on a defenseless player, but then thought better of it.

No penalty. Why? Was it partially because Miller is a linebacker?

Now it's toward the end of the game. Miller was on a pass rush, got knocked to the ground, crawled and wrapped his arms around quarterback Cam Newton's legs near the ankles. Another Broncos players hit Newton high, but Miller got the penalty for roughing the passer.

Not only did Miller get penalized for hitting below the quarterback's knees, but the league fined him $21,000 Thursday. Miller said he will appeal.

"How am I supposed to know if he threw the ball or not?" Miller said. "I was down on the ground — actually the guard facemasked me and threw me into the quarterback. I'm supposed to what? Stand straight up and continue with the tackle?"

Another Broncos defensive player, Kevin Vickerson, was fined $15,000 for his horsecollar penalty while sacking Newton.