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Shutdown Corner

So, who’s the REAL Optimus Prime?

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

We never thought there would be a battle between two of the NFL's elite cornerbacks for the title of "Optimus Prime," but that's exactly what we seem to have now. Before the Seattle Seahawks went against the Detroit Lions in a Week 8 matchup, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman changed his Twitter handle to "Optimus Prime," thinking that it was all the better to counter the efforts of Calvin "Megatron" Johnson. Johnson only caught three passes for 46 yards in the game, but the Lions came away with the 28-24 win.

"Same challenge as it is every week," Sherman said of Johnson a few days before that game. "It ain't no different to me. I don't care who's out there -- it's the NFL, and you're going to have a good receiver out there every week. Whether it's Fitz [Larry Fitzgerald], Steve Smith, Brandon Lloyd ... it ain't no different. Good receiver. I look forward to it every week. Get my hands on someone."

[Related: Falcons loss leads to new No. 1 in power rankings]

Fair enough. However, there is now a challenger for the title of "Optimus Prime." Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams has decreed that is it he, and not Sherman, who truly deserves the title. Of course, the Lions and Packers face off this Sunday.

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Sorry, kids -- the man in the middle is the real Optimus Prime. (Getty Images)

"I'm definitely Optimus Prime," Williams told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel this week. "I'm the leader of the Autobots. I'm the leader of the young guys right now and when it comes down to the tough battles, I'll lead those guys out there."

Williams is a great cornerback, but he was part of a Green Bay defense that gave up 11 catches and 244 yards to Johnson the last time these teams faced off. That was the regular-season finale for both teams in 2011, but Williams remains unperturbed.

"Guys like Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman — they talk about how physical they are — but Calvin was pushing those guys around the field like it was nothing," Williams said. "And those are some big guys. You definitely have to be careful with how you play a big guy like that."

Asked about Williams' claim on Thursday's "NFL AM" show on the NFL Network, Sherman responded with typical brio.

"Yeah, we were pushed around to the tune of 46 yards, I believe," Sherman said. "Not too much pushing. I don't understand that shot, he took a shot at us. Last I checked, we've never given up 250 yards to anybody. We barely give that up in a game. To give that up to one player, I mean that was the last time they played him, I believe. I don't really know if he'd be the one [to] come talk to us about playing coverage."

Right now, the Seahawks have the edge over the Packers in total defense, though we'd certainly call Sherman and Williams two of the league's best pass defenders. However, we'd also opine that neither one of these fine gentlemen is the REAL Optimus Prime.

That title should clearly go to Charles Tillman of the Chicago Bears, who is playing the cornerback position as well as it can be played right now. When Tillman went up against Megatron on Oct. 22, Johnson caught three passes for 34 yards on 11 targets, and Tillman was on Johnson like Krazy Glue. It was America's wake-up call to Tillman's greatness, and as the man who did more than anyone else to keep Megatron under wraps, Tillman deserves the title above all.

"Sometimes, even the wisest of men and machines can be in error," the actual Optimus Prime once said. We believe that Sherman and Williams are just that in their arguments. They're both in second place.

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