Even by the standards of the rivalry, the Falcons-Saints game last Thursday night was pretty nuts. It featured three Matt Ryan interceptions, multiple Saints injuries, officiating that was bad enough to inspire some hilariously bad conspiracy theories, and of course, Sean Payton running on to the field of play.
That last one cost the Saints the game, ultimately, because it gave the Falcons an automatic first down and allowed them to kneel out the clock. Yesterday, the NFL followed up on that by merrily hitting Payton with a $10,000 fine.
Sean Payton, Pete Carroll and two Jaguars assistants were each fined $10,000 for improperly entering the playing field last week. Payton, who was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for yelling at officials on the field, received no other discipline.— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) December 15, 2017
You’ll note that Payton was not fined for making a choking gesture that the Falcons sure as hell felt was directed at them, which I guess is only fair after Atlanta won. The net effect of all this weirdness (and Payton’s fine and officiating grudge) is that the Christmas Eve matchup between these two teams is likely to be ugly, contentious, and might feature Payton actually choking a referee. This is when this rivalry is at its absolute best.