Great players have a unique sense of timing, and Marcus Peters' latest interception came at a perfect moment for the Ravens.
Protecting a seven-point lead late in Sunday's playoff game, the Ravens needed one more clutch defensive play. Peters made it. As Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill targeted wide receiver Kalif Raymond with just under two minutes to play, Peters was lurking in the vicinity.
That was bad news for Tannehill. No defensive back in the NFL is better at interceptions than Peters, and when this opportunity knocked, he answered. As Tannehill was making his throw, Raymond lost his footing, and Peters reacted the way Peters does. He made the interception, ending the Titans' final drive and sending Baltimore's defense into celebration.
It was the third career postseason interception for Peters, who leads the NFL in regular season interceptions (31) since entering the league in 2015. It's not a coincidence that Peters' teams have never missed the playoffs in his six NFL seasons. He is a special player who seems to have a sixth sense for the football, to the point where his teammates are never surprised when Peters picks off a pass. In fact, defensive end Derek Wolfe said he made a request to Peters shortly before he intercepted Tannehill.
"I talked to him the drive before, I was like, 'C'mon, make a big play. Close this game out,''' Wolfe said. "And he did it. That's a Hall of Fame-type of player right there."
Peters would rather do what he does than talk about it. He didn't speak with the media during a postgame video conference, but Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey was told by Peters to deliver a message.
"Basically, what he wanted to tell me (to say) was a song lyric, but I don't really know the song lyric," Humphrey said. "My summarization of what Marcus wanted to tell you guys was, 'Go Ravens.' So, that is (me) speaking on (Marcus') behalf."
With the Ravens advancing to the divisional round, Peters will have a chance to make more big plays. But this was an emotional victory for the Ravens, who vanquished the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last year, and who defeated them Week 11 in Baltimore.
Before that November game, the Titans gathered on Baltimore's logo before the opening kickoff, in a move that didn't sit well with the Ravens. They didn't forget it. After Peters' interception on Sunday, he led his teammates to midfield where they celebrated on the Titans' logo. Wolfe said the move wasn't planned. The rivalry between these two teams is strong, and Wolfe said raw emotion is part of what makes the matchup so compelling.
"This is an emotional football game," Wolfe said. "Sometimes you just act out emotion. I thought it was a good time to go ahead and do that, so we did it. It wasn't a disrespect thing. It was like a team unity thing. We accomplished something as a team, and we were going to go out there take a little bit of revenge, I guess. I don't think it's a big deal."
With Peters, Humphrey and Jimmy Smith's return to the lineup Sunday, the Ravens had their top three corners together again and it showed. Tannehill started hot as Tennessee jumped to a 10-0 lead, but the Titans were held to just three points the rest of the game.
Seeing Peters in the right spot to make an interception is never a surprise to the Ravens, and they hope it happens again during the postseason.
"You couldn't draw up a better defensive back," Wolfe said. "This guy's unbelievable. When a big play needs to happen, he makes it. We've got a bunch of guys on this defense like that."