Hit on Bridgewater pulls ejection for DE Harris


CHARLOTTE, NC – The Atlanta Falcons' defensive end Charles Harris was sent off in the third quarter of their 25:17 win over the Carolina Panthers Thursday night after a vicious hit that temporarily knocked quarterback Teddy Bridgewater out.

Bridgewater was struggling in the third-and-7 game when he tripped and suffered a 2 yard loss. Harris came in after Bridgewater was down and struck the helmet.

The quarterback went to the side tent to check for a possible concussion. A few minutes later he came out and started throwing on the sidelines. He returned in the fourth quarter after clearing the concussion protocol.

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Bridgewater wouldn't call Harris' hit a cheap shot, but Mike Davis, who ran back, didn't hesitate.

"Yeah, I thought it was a cheap shot," said Davis. "It was late, hit him on the neck. You hate to see that."

Former XFL player P.J. Walker was quarterback for three games, and the Panthers settled on a 39-yard field goal that they could achieve within 19-17.

Bridgewater appeared concerned that "someone stuck their leg out and tripped me," which slowed his swing. After that, he just tried to protect himself because he said, "I knew they were raving."

After the goal, he stayed on the field for a few minutes as coaches gathered around him.

Raheem Morris, the Falcons trainer, said he knew officials would protect the quarterback in such a situation and did not deny Harris' ejection.

"I know he ran towards him. I know he hit him," said Morris of Harris' hit. "I'm not sure he was in full contact with his head, but obviously the officials saw it that way, and so did New York. You have to take care of that and get him off the field and end the game."

Bridgewater didn't look good in the bag all night, and even less after returning from the injury at 9:45 in the game.

Maybe it's because, as coach Matt Rhule said, he was "under duress" from Atlanta's blitzing defense all night.

"You just can't really win if you can't control the scrimmage line," said Rhule.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


Melinda Martin