NEW ORLEANS – Given the final verdict, Marcus Peters can now have his gumbo and eat it, too.
The bragging rights belong to the embattled Rams cornerback, roasted by Michael Thomas on his last visit to the Superdome but a big-time winner in the NFC title game.
Sure enough, in the festive visitor’s locker room after L.A. extinguished the Saints 23-20 in overtime, the first two lockers off the entrance belonged to Peters and his partner-in-cornerback-skill, Aqib Talib.
“We didn’t see none of this today!” Peters crowed, as he stood and flexed his biceps to mimic the pose that Thomas often uses for in-your-face celebrations.
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Talib hopped up from his stall. Then he looked at Peters and flexed his biceps, too.
“None of this today!” Talib repeated.
If only Thomas, limited to four catches for 36 yards this time around – quite the contrast to a 12-catch, 211-yard outing in Week 9 – had been around to see it.
They were just getting warmed up.
I asked Peters to explain that other Thomasesque celebration they demonstrated during the game. Is it riding a horse or something?
“That’s us, like we had to put a boat engine in our big-ass bowl of gumbo and we were starting that (expletive), like yank-yank,” Peters said, his words hardly doing justice for the impromptu demonstration he provided.
“You know how you got those old-ass Eldorados and you have to yank them?”
Uh, maybe. I’m from Detroit, the Motor City, where Cadillac means something classic. My best guess is that he’s talking about cranking an older engine up on multiple tries.
No matter. Peters was riding strong, with Talib, as usual, at his side. When I requested to interview the fiery cornerbacks during a training camp visit with the Rams, they opted to do the sit-down session together, like two-on-one rather than one-on-one. It turned out to be a 15-minute blast, with some hard edge, hilarity, respect and serious football IQ. So it was good to catch up on Sunday.
Peters, of course, was such a focal point during the past week because of what he said the last time – that he hoped to see Saints coach Sean Payton again and that they could share gumbo. Payton had said after the Saints’ win in November gave the Rams their first loss that his team particularly liked the matchup of Thomas on Peters, who covered the all-pro almost exclusively while Talib was out with an ankle injury. Peters also mentioned in Week 9 that he didn’t appreciate Payton’s trash-talking from the sideline.
Ready for gumbo with Payton?
“We’re going to the Super Bowl,” Peters said. “Anything that happened before this point, or today, or right now, it don’t even (expletive) matter. Excuse my language, but it’s about what happened on this day. We played our best. We were down 13, man. We played together. The whole organization, we’ve got the ‘We Not Me Syndrome.’ Everybody. And it’s flowing.”
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The Rams rallied from a 13-0 deficit, Peters said, because they maintained composure.
“If you looked at a picture of our sideline when we were down 13-0, then looked at the sideline when it was 20-20, it wouldn’t look no different,” he said. “We were even-keeled throughout the whole game because we knew.”
Still, Peters knew when it was safe to let his emotions flow. As soon as the game ended, he was seen shouting, “Let’s eat gumbo!”
He also tried to have a few words with Payton, which turned into a brief dust-up as several Saints and Rams players got into a heated exchange.
Peters insisted that “I didn’t say nothing to nobody” to spark ill-will.
Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, one of the players on the scene, backed up Peters’ account.
“Peters is my guy,” Jordan said.
Jordan contended that it was another Rams player, who he said wore a “50ish” number, that instigated the postgame sparks. Replays showed there was a player with a 50-something jersey, but a definitive ID of the player couldn’t be determined.
Nonetheless, Jordan complimented Peters for his transition to the Rams – which now has him headed to Super Bowl LIII, the very place the Saints hoped to venture.
Talib, meanwhile, was confident that Peters would bring his A-game on Sunday. He insisted that the pregame gumbo chatter had no bearing on the mindset of his cornerback mate.
“We didn’t need no extra juice,” Talib said. “It was the NFC Championship Game.
“But right or wrong, I’m riding with my dog. And that’s just what it is. And now we’re going to ride on to Atlanta.”
Maybe even with a pot of gumbo.
Follow Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.