NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Carolina running back D’Onta Foreman was having a strong season finale until he and Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport exchanged punches and got ejected in the third quarter on Sunday.
“In the heat of my moment, I kind of lost my cool,” Foreman said. “He (Davenport) did hit me, and at the end of the day I never let any man put his hands on me. But honestly I’ve got to be better with keeping my cool.”
The scuffle took place moments after Davenport chased Foreman down and tackled him from behind on a 1-yard run on the sixth play of the third quarter.
The duo had words after rising from the Superdome turf.
When Panthers tight end Ian Thomas tried to step between them, Davenport reached around and hit Foreman with an open left hand on the right side of the running back's helmet. Foreman responded by lunging at Davenport and punching him in the middle of his face mask with his right hand.
Soon afterward, both fifth-year players were assessed unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, and their ejections forced them to miss the rest of the Panthers’ 10-7 comeback win that left both teams with 7-10 records.
Foreman, who rushed for a career-high 914 yards this season, had run for a team-high 68 yards on 12 carries before his ejection, including consecutive 20- and 11-yard gains on the opening series of the second half. Those runs kick-started a 14-play, 82-yard touchdown drive that tied the score at 7.
The Panthers won on Eddy Pinero’s 42-yard field goal as time ran out.
“I was proud of the guys for finishing,” said Foreman, who watched the end from a television in Carolina’s locker room. “That’s part of our DNA.”
Davenport did not start but made three tackles. His absence shortened the Saints’ end rotation to three, with starters Cameron Jordan and Carl Granderson being spelled by Tanoh Kpassagnon.
Davenport left the locker room quickly after the game and did not speak to reporters.
“It certainly looked to me like Marcus gave him a little slap or something,” Saints coach Dennis Allen said. “I don’t know what happened. My thoughts are I don’t ever want us to be put in that position.”
The other half of Carolina's backfield duo, Chuba Hubbard, finished with 69 yards on 21 attempts.
“We’ve got to make sure that we keep the team first,” Carolina interim coach Steve Wilks said. “I love and respect (Foreman). He apologized to his teammates. But Chuba stepped up in a big way and did some outstanding things. That’s what this team is all about. When one guys goes down, the next guy is there to pick up the load.”
It was the second time a Saints defensive player was ejected during a home game. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore was ejected from a Week 2 loss to Tampa Bay after shoving running back Leonard Fournette, a scuffle that began when Lattimore and Tom Brady yelled at one another after an incomplete pass.
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