Devin Hester sorry for flag; not sorry for defending Harry Douglas

CHARLOTTE -- Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester, who picked up what could have been a costly unnecessary roughness penalty for going after a Carolina player with his helmet, said he actions were all about defending teammate Harry Douglas.

During a series of fights in the third quarter of Sunday's 19-17 win against the Panthers, Hester was flagged for diving in with the crown of his helmet to knock Panthers cornerback Josh Norman off Douglas after Norman and Douglas wrestled each other to the ground. Panthers safety Colin Jones then went after Hester. Eventually, three different Carolina players -- including Mario Addison, Hester's former teammate in Chicago -- pulled Hester to the ground.

"Once the play was over, I turned and Harry was about 10, 15 yards in front of me and the guy was on top of him just pushing him in the face," Hester said. "I was walking toward them and nobody was breaking it up. So I started speeding up.

"When you're around these guys every day, you build that brotherly relationship. When you see somebody doing that ... that's Harry, man. I thought they were trying to take some cheap shots. I was a tough game with two division teams. When it came down to it, stuff got heated."

Hester's 15-yard penalty came after a Steven Jackson run put the Falcons' at the Panthers' 27-yard line, so it essentially backed the team out of field goal range. Hester then fumbled the ball over to Carolina on the next play as linebacker Thomas Davis put a ball-jarring hit on him.

Hester admitted coach Mike Smith scolded him about the penalty.

"He was just like 'you have to be smart, with the situation that we're in right now,'" Hester said. "At the end of the day, about 95 percent of people would agree that it was a silly mistake, but it was right to defend your teammate. You can't let anybody do that to your teammate.

"Could I have handled it in a better way? Yeah. But I do I regret it? No."

Smith obviously was discouraged about Hester's penalty, but wondered why Hester was the only one to draw a flag following the melee.

"It was very costly again, I don't know how through all of that that transpired -- there was a lot, from where I was standing, going on," Smith said. "I don't know how it's a one-sided flag. I don't know. I've never seen that.

"I'm sure that when it all gets said and done that the league office will take a look at it, and if there were other guys involved in it, even though it wasn't a 15-yard penalty. That's what the league does. But I thought it was very unusual to have all that take place and only one player is penalized."

Douglas talked about Hester defending him.

"One thing I know about our team is that we're going to have each others' backs," Douglas said. "That's every group on this team. I know one thing: Our group, the receiver group, we're not backing down to nobody, we don't care who it is. And no matter who is in the situation, we're going to come protect one another. That's just who we are in our group. That's what we do."

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