PITTSBURGH — Carolina Panthers free safety Eric Reid was ejected in the third quarter of Thursday night’s game for a hit on the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ Ben Roethlisberger as the quarterback was sliding at the end of a 17-yard scramble.
Reid lowered his head with Roethlisberger already well into his slide and then delivered shoulder-to-helmet contact to the six-time Pro Bowl selection.
Reid was ejected for unnecessary roughness for forcible contact to the head and neck area of a sliding quarterback.
The play came with 1:03 left in the third quarter and the Steelers driving for a touchdown that would make it 45-14 on their way to a 52-21 win.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he didn’t think the ejection was warranted.
“I don’t think he hit him hard enough to eject him,” Rivera said.
Reid went out to shake Roethlisberger’s hand as a peace offering before making his way to the Carolina locker room.
The quarterback said Reid told him the hit wasn’t intentional, and said with a smile and laugh that he didn’t remember whether Reid made contact with his helmet on the hit.
Maurkice Pouncey, whose line started a post-hit scuffle to defend Roethlisberger, said the quarterback offered to pay any fines they might incur for the shoving.
“Ben’s the franchise quarterback. He means a lot to this organization, obviously to this football team,” Pouncey said. “I could see if he was pulling his shoulder down trying to hit a guy, but he was giving himself up. That shouldn’t happen, but Eric Reid did apologize, so I give him credit for that.”
The Panthers in late September became the first team to take a chance on Reid, who filed a collusion grievance against the NFL when no team would sign him after he spent last season with the San Francisco 49ers. Reid said the league colluded to keep him off a roster after he spent the previous season kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice.
He has continued to kneel during the anthem at Carolina and has not dropped the grievance.
New Panthers owner David Tepper, who had not addressed the decision to sign Reid until prior to Thursday’s game, was asked whether he had to give approval first.
“What did I say when I first came here?” Tepper said. “I said the first thing I want to do is? … Win. What was the second thing I said I wanted to do? That was also win. What was the third thing I wanted to do? Enough said.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.