Surprise, surprise. New Orleans Saints Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore has been nominated for yet another Pepsi’s Rookie of the Week award following his stellar performance against the Atlanta Falcons.
Lattimore propelled the Saints to victory over the Falcons with a performance featuring six tackles (five of them solo), four passes broken up, and a remarkable interception secured against his own ass. Falcons receiver Julio Jones padded his stats in garbage time against Lattimore’s zone coverage, but the wideout was held without a touchdown for the tenth time in his career against the Saints.
The 21-year old rookie can really do it all - he’s brought his season totals to 41 tackles, 18 pass breakups, and five interceptions, having intercepted a pass in each of the three games he’s played since returning from injury.
If Lattimore wins Rookie of the Week again, it will be his fourth time on the season. He’s second only to Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who has won the award six times. That combined ten wins in sixteen weeks would continue a streak of unprecedented dominance by a pair of rookies.
A number of Falcons fans have been crying about no-calls on Lattimore’s handsy man coverage, and the officials did give the Saints some breaks. But by and large those complains are due to Falcons fans having not seen good defensive back play in so long that they can’t recognize it when they see it firsthand.
Thankfully, we’ve got Brian Baldinger in our corner. The 12-year NFL vet has become a sensation on Twitter, live-tweeting his analysis of all-22 game tape. He’s especially effusive of Lattimore, doing more than anyone else in the national media to highlight the rookie’s incredible level of play. Here’s some of his highlights from this week’s victory over the Falcons:
Baldy has jumped directly into the line of fire coming out of Atlanta. Obsessed with slandering Lattimore, Falcons fans have been trumpeting Jones’ seven-catch, 149-yard outpouring like it meant anything in a game they lost by 10 points. They’re particularly fond of claiming Lattimore was burnt early and often by Jones, which Baldy has easily proven untrue:
You knew going in that Jones would get his numbers, but they rarely came at detriment to Lattimore, and they mostly came on gimme-passes against soft zone coverage once the Saints had the game well in hand.
In the end, Jones finished with just three of his catches against Lattimore’s direct man coverage. Despite Jones’ and Matt Ryan’s best efforts to pad their stats in a loss on the road in a game in which they could have earned a playoff berth, the pair couldn’t score a single time. That’s hilarious.
.@AtlantaFalcons @juliojones_11 catches his final pass v @Saints @shonrp2 on 4-3 with 3:04 left in the game with Saints up 23-6. It’s situational football: don’t get beat over the top...That’s it folks. It was a good day for @shonrp2 versus a top 10 player. #BaldyBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/JdgdJ6ARCP— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) December 27, 2017
Were the officials a little one-sided? Sure. But the Saints needed eight more first downs by penalty to match the favoritism shown to Atlanta just two weeks earlier. Welcome to the NFL, y’all. You’ll have a long offseason to let this simmer.