Patrick Peterson says he wants former SEC rival Julio Jones one-on-one

FLOWERY BRANCH--Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson is eager to renew a rivalry with Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones that goes back to their days in the SEC West when the two meet in the Georgia Dome on Sunday.

The way Peterson sees it he’s won most of their previous tussles.

“He won a couple battles, I won a couple battles,” Peterson said. “But I think for the most part I won the majority of those battles. (Jones is) an incredible athlete. Love the battle and the competition between us. It just brings out the best in both of us.”

Jones remembers all of matches with Peterson.

“From my record, the only thing I can remember is, I won three and lost one," Jones said. "I whipped him twice in college and I lost one time in college and I won the one time in the NFL. That’s the only thing I can remember. So, you can take that any kind of way.

“I’m not really big on talking because it’s a team game. At the end of the day, you have to get the W.”

Peterson (LSU) and Jones (Alabama) were two of the top players in the SEC from 2008-10. In three games against LSU, Jones totaled 22 catches for 319 yards (14.5 average) and two touchdowns as Alabama won two of the meetings. It’s not clear how many of those plays came with Peterson in coverage but he notably was on the sidelines with cramps when Jones caught a 73-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of Alabama's 24-15 comeback victory in 2009.

Jones and Peterson have faced one another once in the NFL. Jones had three catches for 33 yards on seven targets during a 23-19 Falcons victory in 2012. Jones didn’t play in the Falcons’ 27-13 loss at Arizona last season because he was recovering from foot surgery.

"Yeah, he’s one of the best in the league," Jones said. "I like competing with him on every down. He never gives up. He keeps going.”

The two players are linked by more than just their SEC matchups. Peterson was the No. 5 overall pick by the Cardinals in the 2011 draft and the Falcons traded up to take Jones with the next pick. Peterson has been voted to three consecutive Pro Bowls while Jones made it in 2012.

Peterson said he wants to be matched up one-on-one with Jones on Sunday.

“Me feeling I’m the best corner in the league, I want the team’s No. 1 receiver, period,” Peterson said. “That’s where you get the opportunity to gain the respect from your peers and be recognized as one of the best and one of the greats after you are done with the game. That’s the kind of pressure I like to have for myself and as a team. “

Cleveland’s Pro Bowl cornerback, Joe Haden, helped hold Jones to five catches and 68 yards on 13 targets during the Falcons’ 26-24 loss last Sunday. Jones did catch a 24-yard touchdown after Haden bit on a run fake. But Jones couldn’t shake free from single coverage by Haden on a handful of deep passes from Matt Ryan as the Browns deployed an extra defender near the line of scrimmage to stop the run.

Jones presumably will get some one-on-one chance against Peterson, too.

"Patrick Peterson is about as good of a corner as there is in the league,’’ Ryan said. "He’s going to play at a high level and make some plays. We also know that Julio Jones is as good as it gets at the wide receiver position in this league. It will be a good matchup, if they’re matched up one on one. We’ll see what (the Cardinals) do in terms of how they match us defensively.”

FALCONS FAN MAILBAG: We take your questions from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday.

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Next for the Falcons: The 9-2 Arizona Cardinals

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About the Author

Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham has covered the Hawks and other beats for the AJC since 2010.