Week 2 hasn't even officially ended yet, but the discipline came down quickly for Bucs WR Mike Evans after his actions that helped spur a benches-clearing brawl between the Saints and Bucs on Sunday afternoon.
The wide receiver has been suspended one game after he sprinted in and laid a blindside hit on Marshon Lattimore, who was engaged in a shoving match with Leonard Fournette and had been jawing with Tom Brady nearby.
"After a play had ended, you were walking toward your sidelines," wrote NFL VP of Football Operations Jon Runyan in a letter explaining the suspension. "When you noticed your teammates engaged in a confrontation with Saints' players, you ran toward that area on the field and violently threw your body into and struck an unsuspecting opponent who was part of that confrontation. You knocked your opponent to the ground and a melee ensured involving players from both teams. Your aggressive conduct could have caused serious injury to your opponent and clearly does not reflect the high standards of sportsmanship that are expected of a professional."
It was a far cry from the discipline that was handed out in-game, which included offsetting penalties and ejections for both Lattimore and Evans. The pair have engaged in on-field dustups multiple times during their heated matchups, including a similar blindside hit from Evans during a game in 2017, when Lattimore was engaging with then Bucs QB Jameis Winston.
It remains unclear whether Lattimore will face any form of discipline stemming from the incident, but his absence was felt. The game was tied 3-3 at the time of the ejections, with the Bucs going on to score a touchdown on the next drive to Breshad Perriman with PJ Williams in primary coverage.
Multiple Saints players spoke plainly about the incident in the aftermath of the game.
"Evans cheap-shotted him last time and Evans cheap-shotted him this time," running back Mark Ingram said, before going on to add: "Nobody respects that, man."
WR Michael Thomas, one of the more intense on-field personas the NFL has to offer, gave a similar review.
"That's not tough, that's not cool," he said. "That's not whatever you want to call it. ... It's getting old."
Evans, who finished the game with 3 catches and a team-high 61 yards, can appeal the suspension, otherwise it will be served during what could be a pivotal matchup for the Bucs in Week 3 against the Green Bay Packers.
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