Who’s to Blame? NFL Looking Into Bucs-Saints Brawl After All Hell Breaks Loose on the Field
The NFL is currently looking into what led to an all-out melee on the field this past Sunday during the Saints-Bucs game.
The NFL has suspended Bucs WR Mike Evans for one game.
More fines could be forthcoming for other players/coaches involved.
Evans is reportedly expected to appeal the suspension.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Tom Brady threw an incomplete deep pass to Scotty Miller while Marshon Lattimore was in coverage. It was a huge third-down play with the game tied 3-3.
The Bucs were going to be forced to punt deep in their own territory and the Caesars Superdome was rocking. I was there and I can vividly remember Bucs QB Tom Brady running at least 30-40 yards to whine to the referees. I'm assuming Brady wanted a pass interference call as he was visibly frustrated with the official.
While Brady was in the area he could be seen jawing with Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore who seemingly motioned for the Bucs quarterback to get off the field as he was walking away from the play.
At that point, Brady turns his complete attention toward Lattimore and turns to walk toward the Saints cornerback. At that point, Bucs RB Leonard Fournette shoves Lattimore.
Lattimore reacts to Fournette's shove by throwing a shove of his own as Brady continues to walk toward the Saints cornerback, leaning in to talk more trash.
At that point, Bucs WR Mike Evans comes flying in with a cheap shot on Lattimore that sparks a bench-clearing melee.
Chaos ensued as Lattimore tackled Evans in retaliation and players from both teams were pushing and shoving. Once officials were able to separate the pile and all was said and done, Evans and Lattimore were tossed from the game as a result of the offsetting personal fouls.
Fans—both in the dome and at home—were confused as to how Lattimore was thrown out for defending himself while Fournette somehow came out unscathed in all of the mess; a mess that he technically started.
Perhaps the most egregious offender was Mike Evans who has thrown cheap shots at Lattimore in the past—almost identical to the cowardly shove we saw on Sunday.
Evans wasn't even on the field while the initial jawing was going on between Lattimore and Brady/Fournette. Another individual who was a factor in the scuffle is the former Bucs head coach—now a consultant with the front office—Bruce Arians.
According to reports, his involvement is also being investigated by the NFL.
After the game, Evans chalked up his cheap-shot to things getting "spicy."
Evans doesn't think he'll be facing any discipline as he did back in 2017 when he was suspended for the last cheap shot he took on Lattimore.
All I see is Lattimore punching Lenny in the face or something like that. And push Tom. I just pushed him. That was really a cheap shot, and this wasn't
Brady—who arguably initiated all of the drama—barely acknowledged the melee.
After giving props to the defense in his typical, bullet-pointed post-game commentary, Brady chalked up the brawl to "emotion."
Saints players and coaches who commented on the incident said that Evans' actions against Lattimore are simply getting "old."
As far as why Fournette wasn't ejected for actually throwing the first "blow" in the chaotic dust-up, NFL Senior VP of officiating Walt Anderson said the decision to flag Lattimore and Evans came after officiating headquarters reviewed the incident.
According to Anderson, Fournette's actions did not rise "to the level of disqualification" (or even being flagged, for what it's worth).
We'll see what the NFL determines once all is said and done, but as a Saints fan, I'm not going to get my hopes up nor will I be surprised when the league finds a way to punish Lattimore for being forced to defend himself.
For anyone wondering, the Saints and the Bucs face off again in Week 13 (Dec. 5) in front of a worldwide audience on "Monday Night Football."