Antonio Cromartie, announced as the winner of this week’s AFC Defensive Player of the Week award this morning, furrowed his brow and tried to recall the last time he surely won his previous POTW from the NFL.
“I can’t even remember, to tell you the truth,” Cro told me at his locker today just before he had to beat the clock to make his special teams meeting. “I think the last time I probably won it …. was in 2008. That was against the Jets. It’s been a while.”
Cromartie’s instincts were right on. The Jets and their shiny new old quarterback, Brett Favre, dropped in on the Chargers for Game 3 of the ’08 season, a Monday night affair. And Cro was high-flying that night. It was the last time he had two picks in a game. It was the last time he returned an INT for a touchdown. He had four PDs in all, a team-leading nine tackles.
And in fact it was the last time he won the award that the NFL distributes to six of its top players every week of the regular season.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan felt this award was well deserved.
“There’s no surprise there. That’s a great accomplishment, fantastic and I’m proud of him for that,” Ryan said at his news conference today at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “But that also means no gameball for Cromartie.”
Cro has the award and the praise it in perspective, of course.
“I felt good about it, but it’s just an award,” he said. “It’s something to build confidence on and to try to come in this coming week and play better than last week.”
Hopefully, it will be possible for Cromartie to enjoy the honor because he’ll be reminded of it a few more times before the Jets head to Oakland for Sunday’s game against the Raiders. His two interceptions were backbreakers for the visiting Jaguars.
The first came in the second quarter at the Jets 3 on a Luke McCown overthrow for Mike Thomas and he ran the ball back out of harm’s way to the Jets 40. A score there could have lifted the visitors of teal back into the game, cutting the Jets lead to 12-10 or at the least 12-6.
The second nearly resulted in his next pro touchdown as he jumped all over McCown’s sideline throw, again for Thomas, and strode all the way to the Jags’ 1-foot line, from where Shonn Greene scored to make it 29-3.
Cromartie made a visit to the Monday’s “Inside the Jets” show on ESPN New York radio. He got more accolades today. And by Thursday morning the video of my partner Eric Allen chatting up A.C. on this week’s installment of “Four Quarters” will be live on newyorkjets.com.
But there are bigger fish to fry in the near future, and they’re the Raiders. The more things change for Al Davis’ Raiders, one thing stays the same: Their speed can kill opponents.
“They have a lot of speed. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford — every single receiver they have has run in the 4.3[-second] range. The only possession-type receiver is Derek Hagan, but he’s one of the best route runners around.”
Some of those receivers, such as Heyward-Bey, Ford and Louis Murphy, sat out the track meet the Raiders lost at Buffalo on Sunday. But head coach Hue Jackson said today, “I think we’re going to get some people back” for the Jets. And let’s not forget about rookie Denarius Moore, the fifth-rounder who, with those receivers out vs. the Bills, had five catches for 146 yards and a TD.
The Jets will need to bring their trackshoes to keep up on the O.co Coliseum pitch. Cromartie has no doubt they’re up to the race.
“For the secondary and the defense as a whole, we have to make sure we play the way we’re supposed to play,” he said. “We know there are going to be some deep balls thrown on Sunday. We just have to do the things we know we can do.”
And as long as that happens, against the Raiders and beyond, it won’t be another three years before Cromartie reels in his next piece of weekly virtual hardware from the league.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Brett Favre, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Hue Jackson, Luke McCown, Oakland Raiders, Rex Ryan, San Diego Chargers
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