Jets' Revis eyes more glory on 'hallowed ground'
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- If the New York Jets' best player is triumphant on Heinz Field today, it will be nothing new.
Darrelle Revis was a two-way star in Aliquippa High School's defeat of Jeannette for the WPIAL title.
He was a standout for Pitt.
And, on Dec. 19, he blanketed Hines Ward as part of the Jets' 22-17 victory.
"This is special," Revis said at the Jets' practice facility here. "This is the AFC championship, a chance to go to the Super Bowl."
"It means a lot to me, for me and for Jason Taylor," Revis acknowledged, citing the Jets' linebacker from Woodland Hills High School. "We've been talking about how much it would mean to do it in front of our family and friends. It's a nice situation. It is the AFC championship, but it's also something special."
He went so far as to call Heinz Field "hallowed ground," before adroitly adding, "Three Rivers was there before, and it's the same fans. It's a blue-collar city, and they love their football."
And make no mistake: New Yorkers love Revis, even if they seldom have a chance to notice his work.
Revis, 25, is a fourth-year professional who has 14 career interceptions and ... well, zero in 2010. Sure, that zero came about partly because he missed three games to a hamstring injury. He also missed all of training camp and the preseason to a contract dispute.
But the far more powerful effect of that figure is that it is largely the result of teams simply not throwing in his direction. He is strikingly quick with his 5-foot-11, 198-pound frame, as well as alert and attentive to detail.
That is why New York coach Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine often gives him multiple assignments, to keep offenses from becoming too comfortable. Two weeks ago, Revis held Indianapolis' standout wide receiver, Reggie Wayne, to a single catch. Last week, he spent much of his time dogging New England running back Danny Woodhead to take away one of Tom Brady's safety valves.
"Darrelle is simply the best," Ryan said. "We give him the toughest down. It's not like he's just playing corner. A lot of times, we'll give him the toughest down. You have no help, so that offense knows you have no help. But we have as good a chance of catching that football as you do. I've only seen it one other time in my life and that was with Deion Sanders. Those are the only two guys that I can think of that will be put in as poor a situation as you can put a guy in, and we do that with Darrelle."
Ryan smiled and rolled his eyes.
"I'm sure he's happy that he's a Jet."
Ryan was asked if he could recall Revis ever being beaten by a receiver when fully healthy.
"No, I really can't," came the reply.
Revis, asked the same question, took a long pause and said, "I don't know."
Revis is soft-spoken and does not easily accept the accolades. He is quick to cite the rest of the defensive secondary anytime the Jets' stifling pass defense -- sixth in the NFL in the regular season, followed by knockouts of Peyton Manning and Brady -- is brought up.
"I think everybody's stepped up in our secondary. It doesn't matter who I watch or where I go."
In the Jets' Dec. 19 victory, Revis held Ward to two catches while recording a pass defensed and six tackles. It remains unclear which player -- or how many different players -- Revis will shadow this time, but indications out of the New York camp were that he again would be on Ward, while Antonio Cromartie would stick with the big-play threat, Mike Wallace.
"If I'm on Ward or Cromartie is on Wallace, then that's the jobs we have," Revis said. "We'll just follow our plan."
Much as Revis seems to appreciate playing this game close to home, too, he does not sound as if he misses Aliquippa much.
"It's a tough town. It makes you grow up fast. There's a lot of negativity there. The one thing I did while growing up was clinging to people who would do the right thing."
He mentioned two other former Aliquippa and Pitt stars, Ty Law and Sean Gilbert, the latter his uncle.
"Just seeing those guys and people like Mike Ditka make it out of there, that meant a lot. And you know, that's going to be part of what makes this nice."
Taylor, 36, is a six-time Pro Bowl selection and a much greater distance removed from his Western Pennsylvania roots. But he, too, sounded enthused about the homecoming, and not just because this will mark his first conference championship game in 14 NFL seasons.
"It's pretty cool," Taylor said. "I was born and raised a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and grew up idolizing all those players. To go back to where it all started, back when I was 16, yeah, that's pretty cool. It's not Three Rivers. But it's still Heinz Field and the Steelers and all their tradition."
First Published January 23, 2011 12:00 am