Haslett Defends Smith's Boneheaded Play
One of Will Smith's best games as a pro might have turned out to be his worst game, which is how things have gone for the Saints this season.
Smith, the Saints' second-year defensive end, played his best game of the season Sunday against the New England Patriots - finishing with six total tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble.
But Smith, the Saints' first-round draft pick in 2004, also hurt the club midway through the fourth quarter of their 24-17 loss to the Patriots. He drew three penalties on one play that led to a field goal and a 24-7 cushion for New England.
Smith was assessed a personal foul for kneeing Patriots tight end Christian Fauria, then drew two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for arguing with an official and throwing his helmet as he walked to the sideline.
Saints coach Jim Haslett said Monday that game tapes show Fauria holding Smith's facemask and pushing him to the ground. But, Haslett said, Smith shouldn't have overreacted the way he did.
"It cost us three points, so I don't think it's good," Haslett said. "You can't give a team like New England three points. We would have been playing for a win at the end of the game instead of a tie.
"I understand after watching the film why Will was aggravated," he added, "but he is smart enough to know you can't retaliate. The worst thing about it is he takes off his helmet and throws it. That's uncalled for. He knows I don't like it. He knows he was wrong doing it."
Haslett said he couldn't repeat everything he said to Smith, but he told him he had played an excellent game and the incident took away from his performance.
"He's a good kid. He means well. He's high-strung," Haslett said. "I think he's going to be a great player someday. He's going to be in the same class as the Dwight Freeneys and those types of guys. He just needs to control his emotions a little better."