CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Steve Smith raced 56 yards for a touchdown, then did perhaps his most important work.
Nearly two months after he broke teammate Ken Lucas’ nose with a sucker punch in training camp, Smith retrieved the ball and handed it to Lucas.
“He took the high road, and that showed a lot about him as a person,” Lucas said.
Smith’s first touchdown after his two-game suspension helped the Carolina Panthers beat the Atlanta Falcons, 24-9.
Referee Ed Hochuli was at the center of another questionable call, flagging Julius Peppers for a roughing-the-passer penalty that wiped out Carolina’s interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter. Replays showed Peppers hit Matt Ryan with his shoulder.
Smith and Muhsin Muhammad combined for 243 yards receiving and two scores for Carolina (3-1). Atlanta is 2-2.
Quoteworthy: “Smitty is a heck of a talent, man, and you know it’s just great to be able to play with him.” -- Muhsin Muhammad, Panthers receiver, on Steve Smith