Saints' Roman Harper fined $15K

The NFL fined New Orleans Saints safety Roman Harper $15,000 for his late hit on Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith after he scored a touchdown Sunday.

Harper said the fine was worth it and that his decision to shove Smith as the receiver slowly crossed the goal line last Sunday was good for his team and got his point across.

Smith says he slowed down not to disrespect anyone, but because he wanted to decelerate comfortably without concerning himself with padded walls surrounding the end zone.

Harper's hit turned into a scuffle between the teams after several Panthers came to Smith's defense.

The scuffle began after Smith leaped to beat cornerback Jabari Greer to a pass from rookie Cam Newton. Greer fell to the ground, giving Smith an easy 30-yard run to the end zone. But as Smith coasted the final 5 yards and crossed the goal line, Harper sprinted in on the left side and knocked Smith to the ground.

Smith jumped up and flipped the ball to the turf defiantly while players from both sides ran down and began shoving each other. Smith then locked up with Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, shoving him to the ground and holding onto his face mask before the tussle ended.

Harper's late hit was the only penalty called. Harper said after the game that he wasn't going to apologize.

"If you're going to score, go score, but a guy is not going to try and just walk it in on us like that," Harper said. "You're going to have to pay for it as you get past the goal line."

Smith said Thursday he hasn't heard from the NFL about a fine for his role in the fight. He also said he doesn't need an apology from Harper.

"You best believe I'm not looking for an apology. I'm not looking for one, don't think I deserve one," Smith said, according to the Charlotte Observer.

"I didn't lose any sleep over it, won't lose any sleep over it. And when we play them down there I'm not going to walk up to him and say, 'Hey, I expect an apology, or can we make amends?' It's football."

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he was "very pleased" that his team stuck up for Smith.

"We are not going to take it. Like I said before, we may be the little brothers and we may get punched around a little bit but we are not going to take it," he told reporters. "We are going to fight back. I was very proud of them for that."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.