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Brian Burns admitted frustration led to ejection

Brian Burns

TAMPA, Fla. — The Panthers were without two of their best defensive players late in Sunday's loss to the Buccaneers, one by plan and one out of frustration.

While cornerback Jaycee Horn was on a pitch count after missing the previous 10 games with a hamstring tear, outside linebacker Brian Burns was ejected after punching Bucs guard Cody Mauch in the head following an extra point in the third quarter.

Burns said the incident stemmed from an altercation in the first half in which a different Bucs offensive lineman said "something he shouldn't have said" to him and teammate Marquis Haynes Sr..

"First, I just want to apologize to my team, my family for handling myself that way," Burns said. "Never been ejected from a game, especially for doing something like that.

"So yeah, the emotions got the best of me."

Burns wouldn't specify what was said, by whom, or whether the remark that set him off earlier in the game was racial in nature, repeating "he said something he shouldn't have said" when asked to clarify.

He did say it wasn't Mauch, admitted he boiled over and punched the Bucs lineman after the extra point for reasons that had nothing to do with him.

"I was mad, and then some events happened, we scored, we got scored on, the game wasn't going our way initially," Burns said. "It wasn't even my fight. I just got pushed, and then I turned around and reacted.

"So I take full accountability for my actions, but, you know, I can't do that."

Brian Burns

Haynes didn't offer any specifics either when asked about the earlier incident.

"I mean, I'm not going to speak on that, just trying to move forward from that," Haynes said. "We just have to play ball, man."

As for Horn, interim coach Chris Tabor said the star corner wasn't going to play the whole game as they try to be smart with him for the long haul.

They initially told Horn he'd play about a half, and he was on the field for the first series of the second half but was gone before the 75-yard Mike Evans touchdown that gave the Bucs the lead back for good 10 seconds after the Panthers had moved ahead 10-7.

"I felt good. I've still got to get my feet back up under me," Horn said. "Even though we're in Week 13, it was good to get back out there and just compete with the guys and compete with the other team."

It was at least a positive step forward for him after the long layoff, but he admitted his excitement was obviously dampened by the 1-11 record.

And with that result, the Panthers are officially eliminated from playoff contention, but Tabor said he was encouraged by the way they responded.

"I love those guys," Tabor said. "I do, and I'll jump in a foxhole with those guys any day of the week. I feel for them. I mean, losing stinks, and it's hard, and it's frustrating.

"But at the same time, you, you know, you can handle things two ways, and that's what we talked about. You can either handle it with character or you can handle it with compromise. So, which one is it going to be? And I like our guys. So we'll just keep working."

The response in the locker room was muted as you might imagine, as a long season gone wrong weighs heavily on their minds. None more so Sunday than Burns, who wasn't around for the end of it.

"I'm proud of the team, you know," he said quietly. "I'm proud of how we fought. We didn't give up, and fought to the end of the close game.

"I just wish I didn't make that mistake, so I could have been out there with them."

View all the action from the Panthers' game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 13.

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