FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons safety Kemal Ishmael got singled out in the meeting room as he and his fellow defensive backs reviewed his 23-yard interception return for a touchdown against Tampa Bay.
It wasn't the type of attention Ishmael necessarily wanted, however.
Secondary coach Tim Lewis no doubt loved seeing Ishmael read the quarterback and make a great play on the ball. But Lewis also pointed out something Ishmael should never do again.
"I just was told not to dive in the end zone," Ishmael said with a smile. "I watched it a million times. It was my first one; I was just happy for it. I was trying to do a little Madden thing, but it didn't work out. When you score on Madden, you can dive into the end zone and get all crazy high in the air."
Maybe they can laughed about it now, but Lewis' message was clear. He actually thought Ishmael should have been penalized for the celebration and told him he's not playing at Central Florida anymore.
"We're cool with it," Ishmael said. "You know, Devin [Hester] obviously had one, and you don't want to get penalties. Just trying to play efficient football. I know how it is."
The same message was relayed to Hester after he celebrated his record-setting, 20th return touchdown on a 62-yard punt return. Hester high-stepped and posed as he ran to the end zone, paying tribute to his mentor, former Falcon Deion Sanders. He received a 15-yard taunting penalty as the Falcons went up 35-0.
"I had the exact same conversation with Devin," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "Devin and the emotion of his situation was completely different. Setting the NFL record, he said, 'I just had to do it, coach.' I said, 'OK, but we don't need 15-yard penalties.' And he understood. It probably would have been a different situation if the game was a little bit (closer). I'd like to think that. Devin is a smart football player."
Said Hester, "I wasn't taunting. I've done that all my life. I think coach understood."
As for Ishmael's dive, Smith agreed with Lewis' assessment.
"With Kemal, it was his first time, but you've got to act like you've been there before," Smith said. "It's an exciting time, as a defensive player, to score a touchdown. But we can't be giving up 15 yards and potentially giving up field position after the kickoff. ... He was excited. And I'm very happy for him, as a individual, to score a touchdown as a defensive back.”