The New Orleans Saints may have finally solved their open-field tackling problems; hit the opponent when he's already crossed the goal line.
Steve Smith caught a pass from Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton late in the first quarter of the team's game in Charlotte, broke free from Jabari Greer and sprinted into the end zone for a 54-yard touchdown. Well after Smith had crossed the goal line, Saints safety Roman Harper sprinted into the end zone and popped Smith in the shoulder, knocking the receiver to the ground and immediately drawing a flag.
In the most un-Steve Smithian of manners, the Panthers receiver ignored the egregiously late hit and began his touchdown celebration without taking Harper's bait. The newfound pacifistic tendencies didn't last long. Other players got into it following the hit, leading to a multi-player skirmish in the end zone that resulted in Smith taking down Malcolm Jenkins and having to be pulled away from the situation by Newton.
It's always good when the rookie quarterback has to be the voice of reason to the veteran receiver.
Harper was the only player assessed a penalty and may be hearing from the commissioner's office early this week.
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