Carolina's 24-20 win over New England had a little bit of everything: Tom Brady vs. Cam Newton, engaging defensive play, controversial antics from officials and -- like clockwork -- choice words from Steve Smith.
The Panthers wide receiver battled with Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib from the first pass breakup until the final period, when the cornerback exited with a hip injury. Talib's incomplete night prompted Smith to suggest he "ice up, son."
Smith can be a discriminate trash-talker when he chooses. He threw heat at St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins ("He's just another notch on the bedpost") -- but showed only kindness to Atlanta Falcons rookie corner Desmond Trufant. Talib's treatment lands somewhere in the middle.
"Never personal, man. It's never personal," Talib said Wednesday. "I'm sure if I see Steve, it'd be, 'What's up, how you doing?' It's never personal, man. Him and the other guy from St. Louis, that was personal. He didn't say he was going to punch me in my face after the game. He just told me to go get in the tub."
There are plenty of potentially outstanding Super Bowl matchups on the horizon, but we wouldn't balk at seeing these two clubs -- and Smith and Talib -- meet again in early February.
The latest "Around The League Podcast" previewed "Thursday Night Football" and "stuck a fork" in three unlucky teams.