New Orleans Saints Coach Dennis Allen said he spoke with Marshon Lattimore on Monday, and advised the Pro Bowl cornerback that opponents will continue instigation tactics after Lattimore was ejected from Sunday's 20-10 loss to Tampa Bay in the Caesars Superdome.
Lattimore was ejected with Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans, who was given a one-game suspension by the NFL for his role in a fourth-quarter altercation that nearly led to a brawl.
The incident began with Lattimore exchanging words with Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady after a third-down incompletion with 12:49 left in the quarter, escalated when running back Leonard Fournette shoved Lattimore and Lattimore returned the shove, then turned to mayhem when Evans circled in from behind Brady's right side and tackled the unsuspecting Lattimore, who was eyeing Fournette and Brady.
"He and I had a conversation," Allen said. "He understands. He understands that he can't retaliate and that's something that teams in this league are going to continue to try him on. A lot of the instances that I can think of, it's generally been a retaliation deal."
For Evans, it was the second one-game suspension he has received due to tackling Lattimore after a play had concluded. In 2017, Evans blindsided the then-rookie as the cornerback exchanged words with Buccaneers personnel after a play.
"I don't understand how (the NFL) comes to the conclusion of what they're coming to (with Evans)," Allen said. "Certainly, I felt like what he did was way more egregious than what Marshon did, and it's the second time that that's happened. I'm not sure how they come up with those designations.
"These altercations typically kind of occur with the people that are involved and not people that are not involved."
Lattimore finished with two tackles and a pass defended, Evans with three catches for 61 yards.
Allen said he again stressed to his team to avoid doing the things that become costly.
"I have conversations with our football team, a ton, about things that keep you from winning in our league," he said. "So we had those conversations again today, and we have to understand what keeps you from winning in our league. And right now, we're committing too many of those errors that keep you from winning."
Principally among them, five turnovers on offense. Two of the three interceptions and one of the two lost fumbles almost immediately affected the scoreboard – one Jameis Winston interception was returned for a touchdown, another led to a short-field drive that produced a Tampa Bay field goal, and Mark Ingram's lost fumble at the Tampa Bay 11-yard line prevented a chip-shot field goal attempt at worst, and a possible touchdown at best.
Winston was sacked six times, but Allen said he felt there were minimal breakdowns in protection.
"If you go back and you watch the tape, the protection was actually pretty good," he said. "There was a couple of sacks where Jameis kind of escapes the pocket. I'd say there was probably two plays in there that I felt like the protection wasn't what I wanted it to be.
"I was actually kind of surprised when I got the play-by-play that said six sacks, because I didn't feel that in the game. I actually thought the protection was pretty good and then when you watch the tape, overall, I thought it was pretty good."
Winston played the game with four fractured vertebrae in his back. Allen said the injury was a non-factor.
"The pain and discomfort is the pain and discomfort of losing a game," Allen said. "That was the pain and discomfort for all of us."
Any level of discomfort wasn't such that it prevented Winston from several deep pass attempts to rookie Chris Olave. Olave was targeted 13 times and caught five passes for 80 yards.
"I thought we missed some opportunities at some big plays down the field, and then I thought we maybe tried to go to the well a little too often in terms of taking those shots down the field," Allen said. "I thought there were some things underneath that maybe we could have taken advantage of.
"Everybody kind of thinks you design this play and this person is getting the ball. There's some of that, but yet, the coverage dictates where the ball goes. There was a lot of attention given to (receiver) Mike (Thomas), which left other people in position to potentially make some plays. I do think there was a couple of opportunities down the field that we had chances at, and we'll hit those as we continue moving forward."
Allen said Tampa Bay's defense played well, also.
"It's a good defense that we just played," he said." "Defensively, they played a heck of a game, they made it really challenging for us, made us have to go the long, hard way – we didn't get a lot of explosive plays down the field. And they made the plays that they needed to make to give them a chance to win the game."
New Orleans also had another standout defensive game against Tampa Bay, allowing 13 points and 260 yards.
"From a defensive standpoint, I thought we did a pretty good job of minimizing what their offense was able to do," Allen said. "But when you allow a game to kind of stay in that balance, like it was, eventually one team makes a critical mistake and certainly, we did. They have a Hall of Fame quarterback that took advantage of it."