As the final two seconds ticked off in the Bucs dramatic 31-24 season ending win over the Saints at Raymond James Stadium Sunday night, coaches Dirk Koetter and Sean Payton came to midfield to customarily shake hands after the hard fought game.
But, it was anything but, customary, as Payton apparently was still fuming about something or several somethings. First, here’s the moment captured by Fox TV:
— Adam Shadoff (@FOX35Adam) January 1, 2018
Also, local television in Tampa had several cameramen there at midfield and WFLA-TV captured a longer version of the exchange. Koetter can be seen calling Payton back to him after the Saints coach pushed away. Then, the smile/smirk leaves Koetter’s face, while he yells “Hey Sean” back at him and grabs Payton’s hand to pull him back for more words of his own.
While we don’t know for sure, there was nothing really controversial at the end of the hard fought regular season finale’ that would have seemingly “set off” Payton to hold Koetter’s arm. Then, repeatedly, slap his shoulder like he was making some point, while saying “Good job” over and over.
Koetter was asked about the post game handshake at his Monday end of year news conference and after complimenting Payton and the Saints on their season gave the cryptic non-answer, “I was wishing him luck in the playoffs.”
The internet began to buzz Sunday night that this possibly was Payton crying one more time about Mike Evans’ conduct in the previous meeting in the Superdome. Evans was penalized but not ejected in the third quarter, when he blindsided Saints corner back Marshon Lattimore, landed on top of him and then began to swing wildly at him. Bucs players and coaches got them separated. Evans was eventually, suspended by the NFL for one game for his actions.
Payton erupted at the time and was shown on TV for several minutes and plays, gesturing wildly at the Bucs bench and perhaps, Koetter. He was obviously upset that Evans had not been ejected.
A quick review of the game archive of the Fox TV broadcast on “NFL Gamepass” online did capture that November post game handshake, as well. However, Payton raced across the field and barely shook Koetter’s hand, while saying nothing. It was almost a “I have to do this but I am not stopping or acknowledging you” type thing.
For the record, Evans publicly apologized to Lattimore earlier last week, and sought him to apologize to him pregame Sunday.
It should also be noted that Payton volatility can cost his team, as it did at the end of their hard fought loss in Atlanta on Thursday night in December. Late in that three point game, Payton, upset with the officiating at the end of the game, raced five steps onto the field barking at an official who didn’t grant his timeout quick enough.
The official threw a warranted 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct flag on the Saints coach, and it gave the Falcons, who were potentially about to have to punt, a first down and they ran the clock out kneeling on the ball.
Bottom line, until one or both of the coaches explain it, we don’t know why Payton was behaving like he was last night during the handshake.
We also know that it doesn’t change the final score: Bucs 31 Saints 24.
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