CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Atlanta Falcons defensive end Charles Harris was ejected in the third quarter of Thursday night’s 25-17 win over the Carolina Panthers after a vicious hit that briefly sidelined quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Bridgewater was scrambling on the third-and-7 play when he was tripped and went down for a 2-yard loss. Harris came in after Bridgewater was down and delivered a blow to the helmet.
The quarterback went to the sideline tent to be checked for a possible concussion. He came out a few minutes later and began throwing on the sideline then returned in the fourth quarter after clearing concussion protocol.
Bridgewater wouldn’t call Harris’ hit a cheap shot, but running back Mike Davis didn’t hesitate to.
“Yeah, I thought it was a cheap shot,” Davis said. “It was late, hit him on the neck. You hate to see that.”
Former XFL player P.J. Walker took over at quarterback for three plays, and the Panthers settled for a 39-yard field goal to pull to within 19-17.
Bridgewater seemed perturbed that “someone stuck their leg out and tripped me,” slowing his momentum. After that, he simply tried to get down to protect himself because he said, “I knew they were swarming.”
He remained on the field for several minutes after the hit as trainers gathered around him.
Falcons coach Raheem Morris said he knows in that type of situation that officials are going to protect the quarterback and didn’t dispute Harris’ ejection.
“I know he ran up on him. I know he hit him,” Morris said of Harris’ hit. “I’m not sure if he made full contact with his head, but obviously the officials saw it that way and so did New York, and so you’ve got to deal with it and get him off the field and finish the game.”
Bridgewater did not look comfortable in the pocket all night, and even less so after returning from the injury with 9:45 left in the game.
Perhaps it’s because, as coach Matt Rhule said, he was “under duress” all night from Atlanta’s blitzing defense.
“You just can’t really win when you can’t control the line of scrimmage,” Rhule said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.