Saints quarterback Drew Brees said Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short punched him in the mouth on a fourth-quarter play that produced a touchdown but left Brees with a bloody lip.
Short was flagged for roughing the passer when he hit Brees in the face with his left hand on tight end Josh Hill’s 8-yard touchdown catch with about six minutes left in New Orleans’ 41-38 win.
Brees ended up on the ground and said later he thought Short deliberately hit him.
“It looked like he just straight punched me in the mouth. That’s what it felt like and that’s what it looked like on the Jumbotron,” Brees said. “Listen, I’ll take the 15 yards (for a personal foul) every time, but we got the touchdown.”
Never miss a local story.
Short had a different version, saying Brees’ short stature (he’s generously listed as 6-foot) played a role.
“I was getting outside to contain and I just threw my hand up,” Short said. “And at the same time, he’s a shorter quarterback so it just happened to hit him in the face. It wasn’t on purpose. It wasn’t out of frustration or nothing. I was just doing my job.”
Given the NFL’s stance on protecting quarterbacks, Short almost certainly will be fined for the play.