TAMPA — Bucs defensive tackle Brian Price says he plays angry and his temper got the best of him when he believed a Panthers player was attempting to reinjure his ankle Sunday, sparking an outburst and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
But Price isn't mad about what happened next. Coach Raheem Morris ejected him from the game.
After watching video of the Bucs' 38-19 loss to the Panthers, Price said Monday that he overreacted and apologized to Morris, his teammates and the organization.
"It's kind of like getting a whuppin' by your dad," Price said of being told Sunday by Morris to leave the field immediately after his third-quarter penalty. "You can't really take it too personal. You know when you mess up and you're like, 'Man, I wonder what kind of whuppin' I'm going to get or what kind of punishment?' It's all love. He's my coach, and I love him to death, and I love playing for him, and I love this team, and I just want to apologize to the owners and (general manager) Mark Dominik and Raheem.
"I let my emotions get the best of me. I thought something else happened, but watching film, I felt bad because I saw something else. I mean, I just reacted off something I thought went wrong."
The penalty, which negated linebacker Geno Hayes' second-down sack of quarterback Cam Newton, sustained an eventual touchdown drive.
Price suffered a right ankle injury two weeks ago against the Titans and had to be carted off LP Field. He said he had been warned by Morris about personal foul penalties. The Bucs, among the most penalized teams in the league, were flagged nine times for 73 yards against the Panthers.
"Emotions are high, you're trying to play angry and being a hulk out there and trying to destroy everything, but I ended up self-destructing," Price, 22, said.
"I know guys look up to me, so I can't be doing that. We're a young team, and I'm one of their leaders. That's pretty clear now, and it was pretty clear before. He talked to me about it before, personal fouls and stuff like that. I screwed up."
Defensive line coach Keith Millard said Price had been warned by Morris after he got away with a similar reaction to a play Nov. 6 against the Saints.
"They didn't call it," Millard said. "Brian plays with a lot of fire; that's what you love about him. He was very frustrated because he was fighting through that injury. … I don't think he hauled off because he thought somebody was going after him. I think he hauled off because of the frustration of him not being able to play to his abilities and then the fact we're getting hammered. That's really hard."
Was Price surprised Morris sent him to the showers?
"I was like, 'Dang,' " Price said. "I know it was all emotions because we were losing and things were happening and third down and long and I get a stupid penalty. Pretty selfish. I kind of knew I screwed up. I wasn't expecting it, but I kind of knew I was coming out of the game."
Price has fought through a series of injuries. He played in only five games last season as a rookie because of a pelvic fracture that forced him to have separate surgeries on his hamstrings. He was forced to leave the Titans game with an ankle injury and was in a walking boot most of last week.
"You got to stay calm," Price said. "You have to be angry during the play but then after the play let it go. Before you get there you have to (yell) then kind of just back down. Sometimes it doesn't feel right doing that. You just want to finish it off to prove a point. … When I get on that field, I just try to be angry for no reason, like just flip out, but I've got to keep it contained."