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Dennis Allen had the least-respectable response to Arthur Smith’s complaint

It’s safe to say that Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith wasn’t happy with the New Orleans Saints punctuating their blowout win over his team with a short touchdown run near the end of regulation. He got into an altercation with Saints coach Dennis Allen after the game to express his displeasure, but Allen’s response to the situation couldn’t have gone worse.

Allen threw his players under the bus, telling reporters afterwards that they audibled out of the kneel-down as called and into a run for Jamaal Williams, The play scored the veteran running back’s first touchdown of the year. As Allen told it (with the players themselves confirming it during locker room availability), the offensive line and backup quarterback Jameis Winston wanted to see Williams score before their season ended.

“That’s not who we are,” Allen said, disapproving of the situation. “That’s not how we operate. We should’ve taken a knee. I want to apologize to (Smith and the Falcons). We’ve got a good rivalry, and it’s a heated rivalry, but there’s a way we going about doing our business, and I wasn’t happy about that.”

Repeat after me: You do not, under any circumstances, have to hand it to the Falcons. You certainly do not have to apologize to them. Sean Payton didn’t apologize to Mike Smith when he dialed up a Texas route for Darren Sproles on Dec. 26 back in 2011 to help Drew Brees break the single-season passing yardage record, going up 45-16 in the process.

Even if the players rebelled against the play call (which speaks volumes about the lack of respect Allen commands in the locker room), this is something Allen should own up. That’s his job as the head coach, and as a face of the franchise. Allen’s players understand the spirit and gravity of this rivalry better than he does. Even if Allen was trying to be honest here, the result is that he’s chastising his players in a very public space. He’s throwing them under the bus and coming off as soft (at best) or disloyal (at worst). He should stand with his players.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire