NEW ORLEANS -- Drew Brees went home with a thrilling victory and a fat lip after throwing for 465 yards and four touchdowns Sunday, thanks to what he described as a punch to the mouth from Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short.
Short was penalized for roughing the passer on the third-down play late in the fourth quarter, which would have been severely costly for the Panthers if it had counted.
But things were going so well for Brees and the New Orleans Saints’ passing offense in Sunday’s 41-38 victory that they declined the penalty since Brees wound up throwing an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Josh Hill.
“Well, I don’t know if it was (a hard hit). It looked like he just straight punched me in the mouth,” Brees said when asked about the play. “That’s what it felt like, that’s what it looked like on the JumboTron. But listen, I’ll take the 15 yards every time. But we got the touchdown anyway, so we’re good.”
Short shoved Brees hard in the face, knocking him to the ground, a moment after Brees released the ball.
But Short insisted afterward that it was not an act of frustration.
“Not at all. Not at all,” Short insisted. “I was getting outside contain and I just threw my hands up. He’s a shorter quarterback. I 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.’’
-- ESPN Panthers reporter David Newton contributed to this report.