ATLANTA (AP) — Saints coach Sean Payton appeared to taunt Devonta Freeman with a choking gesture, holding his hand at his neck and yelling, “Choke!” after the Falcons running back was stopped for no gain at the New Orleans sideline early in the fourth quarter.
Payton said after the game that he didn’t remember doing it. Freeman, who scored the game’s first touchdown earlier in the game, had no trouble recalling it.
“I saw it,” Freeman said. “That man don’t know nothing about choking. He ain’t from where I’m from. He’s a good competitor so the competing probably came out, but you don’t let that bother you. He don’t know nothing about choking.”
The Falcons know a little something about it. They blew a 28-3 lead to lose the Super Bowl to the Patriots last season.
Payton’s apparent taunt didn’t slow them Thursday, though. They kept the drive going three more plays before quarterback Matt Ryan hooked up with Mohamed Sanu for an 8-yard touchdown.
Payton has lost three straight to the Falcons for the first time since taking charge of the Saints in 2006.
The two teams meet again on Dec. 24 in New Orleans.
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The Associated Press