Falcons safety Damontae Kazee was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit on a sliding Cam Newton. The Panthers quarterback was flat on the turf as a retaliatory strike from wide receiver Torrey Smith, and trainers were frantically trying to keep players away from Newton before they could tend to him.
Referee Bill Vinovich consulted with the replay command post, and Kazee was ejected. Smith drew a foul, but not an ejection, for his hit. The yardage offsets, but the disqualification stands. Since these are two dead-ball fouls, the down counts.
Kazee is the third player this year (including preseason) to be ejected; all of these ejections this season were for helmet hits, when there hasn’t been one prior to this year since 2009.
Newton was taken to the sideline medical tent for evaluation. In the time taken to evaluate the fouls and the ejection, trainers cleared Newton to return to play, which seems an extraordinarily fast evaluation for a serious hit to the head. Because the injury was due to a foul, Newton is not required to sit out a down, and so he took the snap on the very next play. Although he could do it, there is a question if he should do it.