Sean Payton on Costly Penalty vs. Falcons: 'I Have to Be Smarter Than That'

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2017

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton speaks to umpire Ramon George during the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

The New Orleans Saints' hopes of downing the Atlanta Falcons were largely dashed Thursday night when Drew Brees tossed an interception in the end zone with 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter, and they were officially squashed on the ensuing Falcons drive when head coach Sean Payton was slapped with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. 

While the Saints seemingly had a shot to get the ball back for one last prayer with the Falcons facing a third down, Payton cost his team that opportunity when he was flagged 15 yards for walking onto the field and complaining to an official about trying to get a timeout called. 

"I called a timeout, and then he asked me again, and I said I have already called a timeout," Payton said, per NFL.com's Kevin Patra. "I probably said it with a little more vigor than I was supposed to but I had enough. I have to be smarter than that."

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport relayed Payton's full comments on the matter: 

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

From last night’s wacky game against the #Falcons: #Saints coach Sean Payton explains that strange late-game penalty that sealed the loss https://t.co/6vH7tee64a

Truth be told, a penalty was a fitting way for New Orleans' night to end. 

The Saints were dogged by mental slip-ups all night long, and they finished the 20-17 loss with 11 total penalties for 87 yards. 

Conversely, the Falcons were flagged four times for a total of 35 yards. 

Now 9-4 on the season with a slim one-game lead over the Falcons and a tiebreaker edge over the 8-4 Carolina Panthers by virtue of a season series sweep, the Saints will need to refocus as they prepare for a home stretch that includes showdowns against Atlanta, the New York Jets and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers


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