The Washington Football Team was embarrassed by the Dallas Cowboys in front of a national television audience on Sunday night, but the biggest moment from the club's Week 16 loss came on the sidelines.
During the second quarter, with Washington already losing by three possessions, defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne got into it with one another. Payne first put his finger on Allen's face, which led to Allen then throwing a punch towards his teammate's direction. The two had to be separated and emotions remained high for several minutes afterward.
Following the game, both players took the podium and downplayed the severity of the altercation.
"It was just a little brotherly disagreement. Maybe the wrong place [at] the wrong time. But, it happened. It is what it is," Payne said, before later adding "it's all good."
Moments later, Payne was asked specifically why he thought the situation boiled over into a physical altercation. The fourth-year veteran responded by asking "You got brothers? Y'all fight, don't you? S--- happens."
Allen provided a similar message, sticking with the 'brotherly' theme.
"When things are going bad like they are, things get heated," Allen said. "S--- happens. Brothers fight."
Allen, a team captain who was named to his first Pro Bowl last week, admitted the situation was "unfortunate" but said it would not carry over from the field into the locker room.
"Things get heated. We fix them, we sit down as grown men and move on," Allen said. "We're better than that. But as a man, I'm going to take full responsibility for my actions and Payne will do the same."
Washington head coach Ron Rivera was asked postgame about the scuffle between Allen and Payne and he, too, downplayed the idea that the situation will linger past Sunday night. The head coach said he spoke to both players after the game about the incident and does not plan on disciplining either one of them moving forward.
"What my players say to me is really nobody's business," Rivera said. "I've talked with them and as far as I'm concerned, that's where it's going to stay."
For Rivera, the situation between Allen and Payne escalated as a result of everything the team has gone through over the past few weeks. Washington has been hit by COVID-19 arguably as hard as any club, not to mention one of its team captains, Deshazor Everett, missed Sunday's game after being involved in a fatal car accident late last week.
"Yeah. Frustration. Wanting to win. Having an opportunity the last few weeks and not being able to get it done," Rivera said. "Not having all the pieces in place that you need to go out there and play together. That's what that is. That's guys wanting to compete, wanting to win more than anything else."