New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore admitted that there was some bad blood entering Friday’s Christmas Day matchup with the Minnesota Vikings, the team that ended the Saints’ season a year ago with a walk-off overtime touchdown in the NFC Wild Card round.
This was kinda personal,” Lattimore said following New Orleans 52-33 throttling of the Vikings. “We went in and got the job done.”
Late in the game, Minnesota rookie Justin Jefferson was hampered by an injury on an incomplete pass with Lattimore on the coverage. Lattimore mockingly hit Jefferson’s trademark “Gritty” dance as he was being helped walk off the field, Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan reported.
They’re just a classless operation head coach on down
— Roger G '75 (@allyroserg) December 26, 2020
Jefferson seemed hobbled but walked off the field on his own volition, and while there hasn’t been any official statement, an NFL doctor believes it was just a cramp.
I think and hope more cramp than injury. https://t.co/NdqVh1UFTW
— David J. Chao – ProFootballDoc (@ProFootballDoc) December 26, 2020
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Lattimore Responds to Souhan: ‘Shut up Lame’
Souhan’s tweet signaled an uproar among Vikings and Saints fans who argued whether he did it or not. There appeared to be a dramatic motion from Lattimore before the broadcast crew cut to a replay.
Regardless, Lattimore did not deny he did it and did not let Souhan go unchecked.
— Marshon Lattimore (@shonrp2) December 26, 2020
Souhan elaborated on his original tweet, saying: “Usually don’t care much about receiver-DB taunting, but the Saints pushing Thielen down after a TD and taunting Jefferson after an injury seems less than classy.”
He also continued to fan the “Bountygate” flames for fans who remember the bounty scandal from the 2009 NFC Championship between the two teams, adding “can’t blame [former Saints defensive coordinator] Gregg Williams for this one.”
Lattimore vs. Jefferson Will be a Spotlight Matchup Going Forward
Jefferson, who finished the game with six catches for 85 yards, was quickly introduced to the emerging rivalry between the two NFC teams. New Orleans stuck Lattimore, a top-10 cornerback in the league and three-time Pro Bowler, on Jefferson throughout the game. NFL.com’s Brian Baldinger noted was a “sign of respect” for the Minnesota rookie.
.@Saints @shonrp2 v @Vikings @JJettas2 was a good matchup for 4 quarters. Big sign of respect that Jefferson had Lattimore shadow him most of the day. #Saints have a true #1 cornerback #WhoDat #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/kUSBIx9UwJ
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) December 26, 2020
NFL Next Gen Stats found Lattimore shadowed Jefferson on 35 of his 41 routes and limited Jefferson to three catches for 44 yards on seven targets, adding a pass breakup early in the game. Jefferson, who has shown to create separation at the line of scrimmage and in and out of his breaks, was pressed at the line of scrimmage 69% of the time by Lattimore as Saints coach Sean Payton made it a point to not give Jefferson any room to breathe.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 25, 2020
The two players were caught on camera jawing after the play several times throughout the game. Jefferson, becoming a household name by becoming the fourth rookie wide receiver in NFL history to have 1,200 receiving yards and seven TDs, has continued to garner the No. 1 cornerback matchup against opposing teams during his climb as an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate.
Justin Jefferson is the first rookie with 1,200 yards and 7 Rec TD since OBJ in 2014 👏📈 pic.twitter.com/cEo6qNO8Sy
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 25, 2020
Friday’s loss adds another game to the ongoing feud between the two teams, with Jefferson and Lattimore’s matchup becoming an anticipated battle in future games.
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- Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.