Falcons may suspend Hall after blowup during game

Associated Press
Falcons coach Bobby Petrino yells at line judge Mike Spanier after cornerback DeAngelo Hall was called for unsports-manlike conduct in Sunday's loss to the Panthers. The call resulted in a first down and led to the tying TD two plays later.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - DeAngelo Hall faces "substantial discipline" that may include a suspension following his meltdown on the field and on the sideline against Carolina.


Hall's loss of composure on the field helped lead to the Atlanta Falcons' third consecutive loss. His tirade on the sideline could cost him a fine or a suspension.

Hall, the Falcons' two-time Pro Bowl cornerback, drew three penalties for 67 yards on Carolina's game-tying drive in the third quarter of the Panthers' 27-20 win Sunday.

The penalties hurt, but the disciplinary actions being considered by coach Bobby Petrino are the result of Hall, enraged by the penalties, confronting the coach in an animated sideline tirade.

"We certainly don't like the actions that took place on the field and do not like the actions that happened on the sideline and that's something that we'll deal with," Petrino said. "There will be substantial discipline. It will be handled in-house."

When asked if Hall could be suspended next Sunday against Houston, Petrino said: "We haven't come to any conclusions yet. We're keeping all our options open, but we certainly will do something."

Petrino, the former Louisville coach, is in his first season with the Falcons. He said he has made adjustments in his dealings with college and professional players, but some standards are the same at all levels.

Presumably, one line that should not be crossed at any level is a player yelling at a coach.

"The thing I want to try to be is consistent so everybody understands how you conduct your business," Petrino said. "There's basically universal rights and wrongs to being a member of a team, and most all of the players understand that."

Hall shut down receiver Steve Smith through most of the game. Smith did not have a catch when the Falcons led 17-10 in the third quarter, but the momentum shifted when Hall was called for a 37-yard pass interference penalty on Smith.

One play later, Hall was penalized for roughness after he tried to jam Smith at the line. The Falcons' defense held when Jake Delhomme was sacked by John Abraham on third down from the Atlanta 20, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the always free-talking Hall as he was walking off the field kept the Panthers' drive alive.

Two plays later, Delhomme threw a pass to Jeff King for the tying score.

Hall, enraged by the penalties, engaged Petrino and assistant coach Joe Whitt Jr. in heated sideline tirades.

At one point, Hall had to be restrained by three players.

Hall complained after the game that each of the three penalties were called by the same official. He said he and Smith were "jawing back and forth," but only he was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"The calls could have easily went the other way," Hall said. "They went against us. We didn't catch a break the whole day. It was just typical of the season right now. We're just not catching breaks."

Petrino would not comment on what Hall said to the coach.

"We're also going to keep anything that happened on the sideline in-house," Petrino said. "It's really between our team."

Thanks to the live TV coverage, the confrontation was anything but private, however.

When asked Sunday what he said to Petrino, Hall said: "We just were talking, talking about the plays that happened. He was telling me what he thought and I was telling him what I felt."

Petrino said he conferred with his defensive assistants about pulling Hall from the game.

"Sometimes you have to handle the situation at hand on how you feel you've got a chance to win the game and what you feel is best at the time," Petrino said Monday.

"Then once the game is over with, you sit back and re-analyze. Should I have pulled him out of the game? I don't know. Maybe I should have, but I made the decision not to."

Falcons players said Hall's penalties hurt the team, but were not solely responsible for the loss.

"We still had opportunities to win the game," running back Warrick Dunn said.


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