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Sean Payton unleashes “choke” sign at Falcons

Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 03: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints reacts during the second half of a game against the Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 3, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

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New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton put his right hand around his neck and appeared to yell “choke” in the direction of Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman early in the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s game.

With 12:40 remaining, Freeman took a toss to his left into the Saints bench area for no gain. As he returned to the field of play, it appeared as though Freeman and Payton each began chirping at each other with Payton shown on the broadcast grasping at his neck and twice yelling “choke” in Freeman’s direction.

“I don’t remember that,” Payton said during his postgame press conference.

Freeman did.

I saw it,” Freeman said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That man don’t know nothing about choking. He ain’t from where I’m from.

“He’s a good competitor so the competin’ probably came out. But you don’t let that bother you. He don’t know nothing about choking.”

While the broadcast picked up faint parts of the exchange, it’s difficult to make out the exact comments shared between the two. Payton’s reference would almost certainly be a shot at last year’s Super Bowl, where the Falcons watched a 28-3 advantage evaporate before the New England Patriots won in overtime.

Payton may not remember it, but it’s pretty obvious he did it.

The two teams meet again in just 16 days.