PITTSBURGH — Drama was in short supply in the second half of the Steelers' 52-21 blowout of the Panthers on Thursday night.
But tempers flared near the end of the third quarter when Carolina safety Eric Reid dove at Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as he went to the ground at the end of an 18-yard run for a first down.
The Heinz Field crowd erupted, and Big Ben's linemen swarmed Reid, who was quickly ejected by officials.
However, after the game, Roethlisberger said Reid was apologetic. Asked what he said, Big Ben replied: “'Sorry. Didn’t mean it.’ No intent there.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera didn't agree with the officiating crew's decision to toss Reid.
"I don't think he hit him hard enough to eject him," said Rivera.
"You saw Ben Roethlisberger's reaction, as well. So, it led me to believe that he didn't hit Ben as hard as I think they thought he did."
Reid has been a lightning rod for controversy. He's pursuing a collusion case against the league after it took months for the free agent to find a team (he signed with Carolina in September). Reid is a former teammate of Colin Kaepernick's in San Francisco and still a supporter of his social agenda.
Reid was also at the center of a heated exchange with Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins on Oct. 21. Reid called Jenkins “a sellout" and “a neo-colonialist” and has been highly critical of the Players Coalition, calling it an “NFL-funded subversion group.”
As for his dubious hit, Roethlisberger appreciated guard David DeCastro and center Maurkice Pouncey — he also said Reid attempted to apologize — coming to his defense.
“Those are my guys," Roethlisberger said. "When it happened, I kinda popped up and next thing I know, I saw those two guys running and the cavalry right behind them, so I just got out of the way.
"It doesn’t surprise me, I guess, either, because of how close we are. Makes you feel pretty good, though.”