OAKLAND – Kansas City Chiefs rookie cornerback Marcus Peters made it no secret in the week leading to Sunday’s game against the Raiders that he was excited to play in his hometown.
The emotions were on display during pregame warmups, where Peters danced to the stadium music. He soaked in the environment, perhaps even aware the O.co Coliseum scoreboard flashed a note that read, “Chiefs CB Marcus Peters is a native of Oakland and attended McClymonds High School.”
Peters’ feelings were also shown after warmups when he made a quick stop to hug his father, who wore a No. 22 red jersey under a large black coat, before entering the tunnel.
“One thing, we know how to survive anything,” Peters said of greeting his father. “You come in the Black Hole, you got to throw on a little black to survive, man. You got to do that.”
The electricity of the moment of his homecoming certainly didn’t end before the game, and it carried into the contest while on the sidelines.
“I was throwing up over there,” Peters said. “I was looking for my mom and I was throwing up because my nerves and everything. I was fired up.”
Make no mistake about it – Peters was amped up.
“It was a whole lot more than I expected,” he said. “It was hard. I can’t lie. It was really hard. It was hard to stay focused. My nerves were jumping early in the game. My emotions were just everywhere.”
It would be hard to fault Peters for getting too emotional because the Chiefs were in a tight battle against the Raiders.
The score was tied, 14-14, late in the third quarter when Raiders quarterback Derek Carr found tight end Lee Smith for a 5-yard touchdown, and the official flagged Peters for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Safeties Eric Berry and Ron Parker were observed talking to Peters at the end of the sideline bench, and other defensive players also went over to talk to him.
“Coach and the other leaders on the team brought me back,” Peters said. “I made some silly mistakes, but they reeled me in.”
Coach Andy Reid didn’t appear concerned, and mentioned after the game Peters can learn from the experience.
“He’s a young guy,” Reid said. “He can’t get too emotional; he’s going up against a seasoned veteran there, (Michael) Crabtree. He (Crabtree) came after him a little bit early, but he came back and made plays. That’s what he does.”
Cornerback Sean Smith agreed.
“I try to tell him all the time, people feed off his energy,” Smith said. “He’s a very passionate player, he goes out there and has a fiery attitude. He has to learn to channel it in the right direction to motivate guys. I told him as long he stays focused, doesn’t lose composure, and goes out there and make plays, you’re going to help this defense out a lot.”
Consider the message received because Peters made up for his penalty in the fourth quarter on a play that helped set up a touchdown.
With the Raiders driving and the scored tied at 20, Carr attempted a deep pass to rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper. But Peters picked it off at the Chiefs’ 29 yards and returned the interception 58 yards to the Raiders’ 13-yard line.
Peters made his way behind the Chiefs’ bench to the stands and motioned into the crowd to his mother, who wore a No. 22 red jersey. His mother then made her way down the steps to meet her son at the rail, and Peters held the ball up to her and she leaned down to kiss him on the cheek.
And the act was accomplished without any backlash from the Raiders faithful, all of whom were likely aware Peters is a homegrown product.
“It’s love,” Peters said. “I truly appreciate it. My mom and my family come in here with all that red. We grew up as Raiders fans. We loved silver and black, but now we love this red and gold. That was huge for me, to be able to give my mom the ball, to get an interception back at home.”
The Chiefs would score two plays after Peters’ interception and went on to defeat the Raiders, 34-20.
Peters finished the game with six solo tackles, an interception, two passes defensed and a forced fumble. He now leads the Chiefs with five interceptions on the season.