Or his first meeting with Evans, for that matter.
So, needless to say, the New Orleans Saints cornerback is plenty motivated for the latest installment of their growing rivalry on Sunday in Tampa Bay (1 p.m. ET, Fox).
Lattimore insisted he isn’t treating this week any differently. But of course, he said, he wants to make up for his Week 1 performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver. Evans caught four passes for 115 yards when he was directly covered by Lattimore, including a 50-yard touchdown, in Tampa Bay’s stunning 48-40 victory in the Superdome.
It was easily the lowest moment of Lattimore’s young career so far.
“You want to win. You know, I lost the first week, so of course I want to win this week,” said Lattimore, who won the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award and made the Pro Bowl last season as a first-round draft pick. “That’s against anybody, though — that’s not just him.”
Where the matchup does get more personal with Evans, however, is the ill will Lattimore still holds from the cheap shot that Evans took against him in their first career meeting last season. Evans was suspended for one game after charging at Lattimore, shoving him in the back and knocking him to the ground after Lattimore got into a brief skirmish with Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston on the sideline.
Evans later apologized for his actions, calling them “childish” and “bulls—.” They haven’t had any other incidents in their past two meetings.
But Lattimore admitted Thursday that, “Of course I’m thinking about it the whole time, just being a man.”
“You can’t come back from doing something like that, especially when I don’t even know you in the first place,” Lattimore said. “I ain’t gonna say I hate him or nothing like that, but it is what it is.”
Lattimore also wasn’t too complimentary of the 6-foot-5, 231-pound Evans when asked what Evans is doing well this season to have 66 catches for 1,121 yards and five touchdowns.
“He do all the push-offs and all that type of stuff that they don’t call on the offense — but they call on the defense,” Lattimore said. “You know, he gets away with a lot of hand-fighting.”
In other words, get your popcorn ready.
But to be fair, Lattimore wasn’t much easier on himself when he admitted he has been frustrated with his own play this season.
Lattimore has settled down since that Week 1 dud — and he has played like a true No. 1 cornerback for most of the season. But the 6-foot, 192-pounder has battled a bit more inconsistency than he did in his stellar rookie season. And he made it clear Thursday that he expects more of himself.
“I feel like my rookie year, I don’t know, I just played more freely. And now it’s just like trying to overthink too much and just things like that, where I just need to go back to just being me. But it’s gonna come,” Lattimore said. “I went through a stretch where I was locking it down [this season]. But last week (a 13-10 loss at Dallas) was just frustrating with all the quick games and stuff like that. And the penalty at the end of the game. Just little stuff just irritated me.
“I wouldn’t say I did bad or anything like that, just little irritating stuff and nagging stuff like that.”
Lattimore said this season he realized that he needed to treat every practice with the same intensity as he approaches games — because he noticed some of those bad habits were carrying over onto the field.
And for the most part, Lattimore said he has been proud of the way he bounced back from his Week 1 struggles.
“That’s the type of player you have to be, especially when you’re playing at a high level. You’re gonna have bad games. You have to be a dog, though. That’s the dog mentality that I have,” Lattimore said. “A lot of people don’t have it. A game like that could get people down and have them like, ‘I’m terrible.’ But if you know you’re a dog, you know you’re capable of doing better, then that don’t really get you down. It just motivates you to get you better. And that’s what it did with me.”
Saints coach Sean Payton also said he has been pleased with Lattimore’s progress after that rough start.
“It wasn’t just about Mike and Marshon that day,” Payton said of a day when Tampa Bay’s Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns. “The quarterback was comfortable in the pocket … a quarterback that’s throwing it extremely well, we turned the ball over offensively, there were a number of things.
“But Marshon … we feel like is one of the better corners in this league, and I’m glad we have him.”