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Vikings' Harrison Smith ejected for pushing referee

The real officials are back, and they made their presence felt in the Metrodome.

Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith was ejected during the second quarter of Sunday's 30-7 win over the Tennessee Titans after he pushed a referee.


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After Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield picked off Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's pass, Smith was seen shoving Tennessee wide receiver Nate Washington before an official stepped in to pull him away. As he was being tugged from the play, Smith threw the official off him. Spotted in the crowd: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who's certain to take interest in this one.

Smith, a first-round draft pick, also was fined $21,000 during the preseason for a shoulder-to-helmet hit, and he'll undoubtedly see a steeper fine this week. His ejection left Minnesota thin in the secondary as the surprising Vikings came up with their fourth win of the season.

UPDATE: Referee Jeff Triplette addressed reporters after the game and explained the ejection, according to Chip Scoggins of The Star Tribune.

"He grabbed the official when the official was trying to separate them and pushed the official to the side," Triplette said. "That's an automatic ejection."

Scoggins asked Triplette if back judge Steve Freeman used excessive force when attempting to pull Smith aside.

"(Freeman) was just trying to separate (Smith) from the huddle, and he can't be shoving him aside," Triplette said.

Smith later apologized for pushing the referee.

"I've lost my head before," Smith said, via Tom Pelissero of ESPN Twin Cities, "but I've never had an incident with an official. I completely apologize for that."

Smith said he was unaware who he was shoving.

"Right after I moved the ref, I realized it was a ref, and I realized that that was stupid and I should never do that, Smith said. "Stupid by me. I should never put the officials in a position like that. I should never touch them. I know that."

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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