By: John Welch
To no one’s surprise, they did it again.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide-receiver Mike Evans and New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore continued their personal rivalry during last Sunday’s game between the two NFC West contenders which resulted in a 20-10 victory for Tampa.
Early in the fourth quarter Evans shoved Lattimore to the ground which resulted in a bench-clearing brawl. Both players were immediately ejected following the physical altercation.
The conflict arose after Lattimore forced an incomplete pass on Buccaneers wide receiver Scotty Miller. Following the play, Lattimore waved his hand in motion of quarterback Tom Brady, with obvious negative intent.
The Saints’ cornerback began jawing with Brady which prompted Buccaneers’ running back Leonard Fournette to shove him. After shoving Fournette back, Lattimore was crushed from behind by Evans who took exception to the gesture.
“It’s Tom Brady,” Evans said. “What [do] you want me to do?”
New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen was displeased with the confrontation, believing his players weren’t the ones who started it.
“I believe it was Leonard Fournette … the first one to push and shove Lattimore,” said Allen. “I’ve been around this league long enough that usually they don’t get the instigator. They usually get the responder. I think what happened after that was a little excessive, so we’ll see how that goes.”
Both Evans and Lattimore were disqualified from the game after referees determined that the fouls committed by both players warranted such action. Evans was given a one-game suspension.
This is not the first time that Evans and Lattimore have gotten into it on the field. Due to both the Buccaneers and Saints competing in the same division, the NFC South, Lattimore is lined up across from Evans twice a season, and things have gotten very physical in the past, to say the least.
In week nine of the 2017 NFL season, then-Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick took a late hit from then-Saints safety Vonn Bell. Chatter from both sidelines began to escalate until the tipping point, when former-Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston pointed at Lattimore and touched the back of his neck, which prompted Lattimore to push Winston. Then, Evans came out of nowhere and blindsided Lattimore.
The suspension sidelined Evans for Tampa’s home opener against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Sept. 25.
Former head coach for the Buccaneers, Bruce Arians, was sent a warning by the NFL for his role in the skirmish between Evans and Lattimore. Arians appeared to direct Evans back on the field during the altercation, which then led to the altercation with Lattimore.
The league warned Arians that his actions were not acceptable under league rules, and any further actions that don’t abide by the NFL’s policies could result in, “fines and penalties for himself and the team.”
The Buccaneers and Saints do not face each other again for quite some time. Their next match-up is set for Monday Night Football on Dec. 5, allowing time for tensions to simmer down. If history serves as any indication, this most likely won’t be the case.