Saints’ Jameis Winston suggests team defied coach in controversial TD

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The New Orleans Saints scored a garbage-time touchdown in the team’s 48-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, sparking a heated interaction between Arthur Smith and Dennis Allen.

Saints running back Jamaal Williams scored with 1:10 to play in the game. It was Williams’ first touchdown of the season after he led the NFL with 17 rushing scores last season. In the postgame handshake, the Falcons coach was upset with Allen.

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Jamaal Williams vs Falcons

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Nate Landman, #53, tackles New Orleans Saints running back Jamaal Williams, #21, during the second half at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans on Jan. 7, 2024. (Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports)

The Saints coach apologized to Smith in his postgame comments, but Jameis Winson suggested he and his teammates went rogue when the team was on the 1-yard line.

“I apologized to D.A. because the play was ‘Victory.’ But I also explained to D.A. that it was a team decision. I think that when you have a team morale and I asked the guys, ‘What do you want to do?’ We know how much Jamaal means to this team. And I understood from D.A.’s perspective.

“But D.A. didn’t condone it at all. However, we decided as a team to do it. And man, we got an interception to the 1-yard line – if we woulda scored, would it still have been disrespectful?”

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Tyrann Mathieu celebrates

New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu, #32, celebrates after an interception in the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in New Orleans on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Winston added that he had “no regrets” over the call.

Smith was upset when he met Allen at midfield but took the high road when talking about the last part of the game to reporters.

“They can do whatever they want. There are no rules against it,” Smith said. “We didn’t stop them the second half, and they can do whatever they want. It is what it is. Hats off to them. They kicked our you-know-what in the second half. That’s their prerogative. It’s also my prerogative to tell him how I feel. Credit to them. They can do whatever they want there.”

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Falcons veteran Calais Campbell said he had no problem with going for the score but was more upset that they appeared to lineup in a victory formation.

Jameis Winston vs Giants

New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr, #4, is congratulated by quarterback Jameis Winston, #2, after a touchdown against the New York Giants during the second half at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans Dec. 17, 2023. (Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports)

“I wish they would have lined up in run formation,” he said. “Don’t look like you’re going to take a knee and then run then ball. … I was just frustrated with that because I just feel like there was a way to do it, if you’re gonna do it.”

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New Orleans and Atlanta will both miss the playoffs and both of their coaches are on the hot seat.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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