In the week leading up to his highly anticipated meeting with the Panthers — the team that unexpectedly dropped him roughly eight months ago — Josh Norman mostly dodged and evaded questions meant to get a rise out of him like he was a kick returner, not a cornerback.
And following the Redskins' letdown against Norman's ex-employer on Monday night, in which the hosts lost 26-15 in a game they truly needed, the defender again took that same path. There were no short, one-word answers, and there were no long, incendiary quotes that the people on Twitter were surely yearning for.
There was just respect. Respect delivered in a solemn, slightly dejected tone, sure, but respect nonetheless.
"First and foremost, it was a hard-fought game," Norman told the massive horde of reporters surrounding his locker, one that likely would've waited until Wednesday to hear him talk if he wanted draw things out that long. "They beat us. You have to credit them. They came out and did what they had to do... You just have to tip your hats off to them."
Much like he did with the media, No. 24 kept a relatively low profile on the field during the matchup as well. Some were wondering how well he'd be able to contain his emotions while searching for revenge on a national stage, but aside from his typical post-whistle actions, Norman never really got chippy with any of his former teammates.
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As for his performance, he played soundly, but was never really challenged by Cam Newton. He allowed a few first down completions early on, but also nearly snagged an interception on a long double move in which he showed good discipline. For the rest of the 60 minutes, though — 60 minutes that he wanted to be the star of — he was uninvolved while all facets of the Burgundy and Gold floundered.
Overall, he came across as unsatisfied with the lack of action that came his way on the night.
"I wanted him to, that's what I was talking to him about out on the football field," Norman said when asked if he wish Newton would've tested him more. "That's why we was jawing at each other. He threw that long ball to Teddy [Ginn], I came down with it, it popped up from me — after that, I didn't see no more of him all night. I think [offensive coordinator Mike] Shula got in his ear. I wish he didn't."
In the end, while he said all the right things, there's no doubt missing out on the victory disappointed Norman. There are competitors, and then there are competitors; he absolutely falls in the latter category.
However, there's no time to lament the result, and he knows that. After all, there's another contest to play in Chicago and a finale after that against New York, both of which carry playoff implications for the Redskins, who now stand on the outside of the postseason yet again.
Vengeance or not, it's time to move on.
"We have to go back and look at what we did wrong and our mistakes," he said. "We’ll go at it for this two-game series. We just have two games left and we have to come out here and finish the job."
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