NFC South Reporter
The fourth quarter Monday night cost the Saints much more than just a win against the Bucs.
New Orleans gave up a 16-3 lead in the final three minutes, losing 17-16 on a Tom Brady touchdown pass with three seconds remaining. But now there are more repercussions for the Saints, with $550,000 in fines levied by the NFL, which alleges that defensive end Cameron Jordan faked an injury on the field.
The team was fined $350,000, head coach Dennis Allen was fined $100,000 and defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen and Jordan were fined $50,000 each. Midway through the fourth quarter Monday night, as the Saints led 16-3, Jordan took a knee on the field after a third-and-17 play by the Bucs offense.
While there was no obvious strategic advantage to delaying the game briefly, the league alleges that Jordan was faking the injury, an allegation the team denied in a statement issued Saturday afternoon.
“The New Orleans Saints deny any allegations of purposefully delaying the game on Monday evening,” the statement said. “Defensive end Cameron Jordan felt foot pain following a third-down play and sought medical attention. He entered the blue medical tent and was examined by the medical staff, and following the (examination), he was taped and able to finish the game. He had an MRI performed the following day in New Orleans and was confirmed that he suffered an acute mid-foot sprain in his left foot. He has been at the facility each day receiving treatment for his injury he suffered on the play. The Saints will appeal the fines through the proper channels and believe the allegations will be proved incorrect.”
Jordan addressed the $50,000 fine against him in a series of tweets Saturday, expressing disappointment and disbelief before the team statement was issued, joking that the league just wanted to buy an expensive watch.
“Most expensive fine to date from the NFL came in yesterday … added stressor for no reason,” he wrote. “Are fines made by NFL open to public? Just feel like this should be public knowledge. ‘Cause some of the fines are silly, but this 1 … ridiculous. Anyways and for what a ‘deliberate action to delay game’ before a (team) punts? NFL just wanted a new patek aquanaut or (something).”
Jordan was injured on a play that set up a fourth-and-10 play for the Bucs at their own 25, and initially, the team kept Brady and the offense on the field, as if preparing for an all-or-nothing play to go for a first down. The brief delay while trainers attended to Jordan gave Bucs coach Todd Bowles enough pause that he sent his punter out instead, and the Bucs defense forced a three-and-out from the Saints, setting up two touchdown drives in the final 5:21 for a stunning comeback win.
When Jordan took a knee on the field, the injury was questioned in real time on the “Manningcast” ESPN broadcast, with brothers Peyton and Eli Manning wondering about the injury and even noting that the league had sent a memo out to teams stating that it would be a point of emphasis to guard against players faking injuries to delay games.
“He’s faking?” Eli asked, and Peyton responded “No, I’m not saying that. The league did send out a memo about going down. I don’t know why you would do that if you’re the Saints.”
Jordan didn’t immediately return to the game and wasn’t back in until four plays into the Bucs’ next drive. The win put Tampa Bay at 6-6 atop the NFC South standings, while the loss dropped the Saints to 4-9 at the bottom of the division standings.
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Greg Auman is FOX Sports’ NFC South reporter, covering the Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers and Saints. He is in his 10th season covering the Bucs and the NFL full-time, having spent time at the Tampa Bay Times and The Athletic. You can follow him on Twitter at @gregauman.
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