FOXBOROUGH — Outlandish and outspoken, Terrell Suggs kept bellowing over and over again “And the Ravens . . . are going to the Super Bowl!’’ for everyone to hear in the visitors’ locker room at Gillette Stadium following Baltimore’s 28-13 victory over the Patriots in Sunday night’s AFC Championship game.
Suggs kept up his refrain, shouting it over the top of the exuberant din.
It was in keeping with his over-the-top and in-your-face persona, more of which was on display immediately after the game when he bounded into the locker room and bid the Patriots adieu by shouting, “Tell them to have fun at the Pro Bowl! Shut them out in the second half! Arrogant [expletive]!’’
Yet once the bluster of Suggs’s initial outburst had subsided, the man dubbed “T-Sizzle’’ simmered down and took a surprising turn when he paid Tom Brady and the Patriots, the team that had defeated the Ravens’ in last year’s AFC Championship, “the utmost respect’’.
“What would this league be like without 12 and the New England Patriots?’’ Suggs said. “People don’t like them because they win, they’re a great team, and they have every right to be who they are.
“We respect the rivalry, and it’s heated, but even enemies can show respect in times of war. Had it been any other team in this championship, both teams would’ve probably won by a landslide. But these two teams, we had to play each other.’’
And that is precisely why there had been such an emotional initial reaction from Suggs and his teammates right after the win.
As he sat in his locker, peeling away the layers of armor, Suggs had kept up pumping up the volume on his monologue.
“Shut out in the second half! In Foxborough!’’ he had said, reciting the Ravens’ impressive accomplishment to Ray Lewis, the retiring veteran linebacker and emotional leader of Baltimore’s defense.
“Oh my God, oh my God,’’ came Lewis’s reply, as he undressed at his locker and shook his head in disbelief.
Suggs began drawing a crowd of reporters to his locker.
“My wife told me we were going to win by 10 points,’’ he said. “She was just 5 points short. She kept telling me, ‘Babe, quit worrying about it, quit watching all the damn film, come to bed. Y’all going to win by 10 points.’ I was like, ‘Ah, I got to watch more film because this woman doesn’t know what she’s talking about.’ ’’
Suggs had continued to run down the Patriots.
“Since Spygate they just can’t seem to get it done,’’ he said. “Who would’ve known that? That’s crazy, though. They just gave them $500,000 fine, but they almost lynched [Saints coach] Sean Payton.’’
But when Suggs had removed his gear, he struck a different, more respectful tone.
His voice wasn’t booming now.
His words weren’t as cutting.
He had put a cease-fire on his Angry Bird act.
“All b.s. aside, all ego and arrogance aside, that is one . . . hell . . . of . . . a ballclub,’’ Suggs said. “I mean, you got to play perfect to beat ’em, and we did damn near just that to win this game.’’
Suggs paused to let his words hit home.
“I’m speaking to you like with so much humility, because it’s a great victory for the City of Baltimore and the Ravens,’’ he said. “If we went through somebody else, it wouldn’t have been the same. Yeah, it is a rivalry between us and them, and me and 12, but like I said, even enemies can show respect.
“And they get the utmost.’’
Asked if he ever caught up to Brady after the game on the field, Suggs said he did not.
“I was too busy looking for my wife and I was too busy celebrating with my fans,’’ Suggs said. “But like I said, against any other team, this win [wouldn’t have been as sweet], especially how the game last year ended, and who 12 is, who their head coach is, and who their owner is.
“You’ll never get another battle like this for 20 years between two teams in the AFC Championship. So we have the utmost respect for them.’’Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.