Payton: Bucs player should have been ejected
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston sparked a skirmish during Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints, which involved Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans laying out Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
Winston, who had been removed from the game because of a shoulder injury, poked the back of Lattimore's helmet with his left hand as Lattimore walked along the Buccaneers' sideline. The Saints cornerback responded by turning around and shoving Winston with his right hand, which prompted Evans to sprint over and hit Lattimore in the back.
Mike Evans NOT ejected for this.... pic.twitter.com/oBRfKvqQ5C— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) November 5, 2017
A brief skirmish followed. Evans drew a personal foul penalty following the incident but was not ejected.
"I thought 23 was trying to pick a fight with my quarterback, and I just let my emotions get the best of me," Evans told reporters after the game. "It’s something I shouldn’t have did. It’s very childish. I shouldn’t have (done) that. Unprofessional."
Winston told reporters that he poked Lattimore as a way of "telling him to go to his sideline." When asked for his thoughts on Evans' retaliation, he said, "Well, Marshon Lattimore pushed his quarterback." Winston had completed seven of 13 passes for 67 yards before being pulled from the game.
In his postgame news conference, Saints coach Sean Payton was adamant that Evans should have been ejected as a result of the hit. Earlier in the afternoon, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green and Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey were both ejected for their fight at the conclusion of a play, which involved Green wrestling Ramsey to the ground.
"If there’s not an ejection in that situation, then I don’t know when there’s supposed to be an ejection," Payton said of Evans' hit. "He was a little angry, (Evans) was.”
Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter told reporters after the game that he hadn't seen what happened during the sequence.
“I turned to my left and the fight broke out, so I really don’t know what happened on that," Koetter said. "I heard a report on what happened from people that did, but I didn’t really see what happened. That’s definitely not the way we want to represent ourselves if it was in fact the way I was told.”
Lattimore, who told the The Times-Picayune that Evans' hit was "the sneakiest of sneak moves," said he could tell that Evans and the Buccaneers were frustrated at the time. They lost the game, 30-10, to fall to 2-6 on the season.
"I get it. They’re frustrated. It’s football. So it is what it is," Lattimore told reporters. "I wanted to go at (Evans) after that, so I was glad he wasn’t ejected."