Evans and Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore got ejected as the two main perpetrators in the bench-clearing brawl during the fourth quarter on Sunday, September 18. It started after Lattimore made a gesture to Brady following a third-down play.
The bench-clearing brawl climaxed a heated day between the NFC South Division rivals. Things soon simmered down, and the Bucs took off to break a 3-3 tie with a 17-7 fourth quarter.
“I just saw a lot of pushing and shoving and flags flying,” Bucs head coach Todd Bowles told reporters afterward. “You don’t want punches thrown on either side. I’m sure their coach is saying the same thing.”
The Bucs will wait and see what the NFL decides on Evans’ playing status after the ejection.
“I hope not,” Bowles said about a suspension for Evans. “We’ll see what happens with the league.”
Brady: ‘A Little Bit of Execution Helps’
Brady nor Bowles wanted to credit the brawl as an emotional turning point for the Bucs.
“I think a little better execution helps all the way around,” Brady said. “Defense played great again.”
With the game still tied 3-3 and no Evans, Brady went deep, 28 yards, to Perriman for the go-ahead touchdown with 7:41 to go in the game. Saints fans such as @HerulsBack claimed Lattimore’s absence played a role.
“We gave Tom a little time,” Bowles said. “He just made a great throw. Breshad made a great play.”
Brady had a tough go of things all day, which included signs of frustration on camera. He tossed both his helmet and a tablet on the sidelines during the game, and he got out of the press conference in two minutes — too quickly to get asked about it.
“Yards were hard to come by and points were hard to come by in that ball game,” Bowles said.
Bucs Defensive back Jamel Dean shifted momentum when he picked off Saints quarterback Jameis Winston in the end zone. Bowles didn’t want to attribute motivation to what happened moments before Dean’s pick.
“I don’t know if it was a turning point,” Bowles said about the brawl. “We were into the ball game. It was 3-3 at that point, and it could have went either way, and we knew we had to make some plays.”
The Bucs defense also sealed the deal with a couple of turnovers. Safety Mike Edwards picked off Winston and took it 68 yards to the end zone for a 20-3 lead. Defensive back Carlton Davis III then recovered a fumble by Saints rookie receiver Chris Olave.
Injury Problems Continue for Bucs
Tampa Bay had casualties in the win with offensive lineman Josh Wells and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks going down with injuries. Bowles said tests need to be run on Wells’ calf, but Bowles didn’t have an update on Hicks’ foot injury.