FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Darrelle Revis couldn’t believe Rex Ryan’s latest declaration.
His coach labeled him the best player in the NFL, hands down. Some lofty praise that made Revis’ eyes widen.
“What?” the New York Jets’ Pro Bowl cornerback said with a laugh Tuesday. “He said that?”
He sure did, Darrelle.
“Well, thanks, Rex, for the quote,” Revis said, laughing again. “I mean, I thank Rex for respecting me that highly. I do strive to try to be the best in what I do.”
This certainly has been a whirlwind of a season for Revis. There was a long contract holdout that caused him to miss training camp, some hamstring issues that sidelined him a few games and doubts as to whether he could reach last season’s lofty level, when he finished second for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Ryan shoved all that aside Monday when he went out of his way to pump up Revis, who held Indianapolis wide receiver Reggie Wayne to one catch for 1 yard in New York’s 17-16 playoff win.
“That’s kind of a big, bold statement,” Revis said. “People can differ from that. They have different opinions and usually it’s a quarterback, a Peyton Manning or a Tom Brady, a guy who can really control the game, or an offensive player.
“Him saying that for a defensive player, that’s mind-boggling to me.”
Revis knows he’s a good player, but that good?
“I think I’m one of the best,” he said. “I don’t know if I can say I’m the best because I really have no stats this year. I have no interceptions and a couple of tackles and that’s about it. But one thing I do strive on is just trying to be consistent.”
That’s what he’s been doing all season — week after week. For a few years running.
“How many catches has he even allowed this season?” asked safety Brodney Pool. “There haven’t been many, and that’s just incredible. If you can make quarterbacks scared to throw at you like he does, that’s pretty tough to do.”
Revis’ reputation ballooned last season, when he repeatedly shut down elite wide receivers to the point that he was nicknamed “Revis Island” — a destination where opposing players got lost, just as Wayne did last weekend. It’s been more of the same this season, especially during the last two months.
Detroit’s Calvin Johnson had one catch for 13 yards. Houston’s Andre Johnson: four catches, 32 yards. Cincinnati’s Terrell Owens: three catches, 17 yards. Miami’s Davone Bess: one catch, 6 yards. Pittsburgh’s Hines Ward: two catches, 34 yards.
That’s five receivers, 11 catches and no touchdowns.
“If you look at the things he does to a receiver to the point where an offensive coordinator won’t even look to his side, it speaks for itself,” cornerback Antonio Cromartie said.
That’s impressive when you consider what Revis has been through this season, with missing camp and being hobbled a few weeks. In August, Revis wasn’t with the team at all, frustrated with his contract negotiations and hoping for a chance to return to the playoffs with the Jets.
“I didn’t want to miss that,” Revis said. “That had always been on my mind. I wanted to be on this team and experience all that once again.”
Revis has said he has to fight boredom in some games because he gets few throws in his direction. Wayne was frustrated after the Colts’ loss after being targeted by Manning just once, even after leading the AFC with 111 catches during the regular season.
“I can’t sit here and say, ‘Yeah, he shut him down,'” said Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch, who has been watching film from that game. “There were some times that Reggie was open and he didn’t get the ball and there were other times that he was covered. It’s 50-50. It’s just hard to sit back and say, ‘He did this. He did that.’ Both of them are great players.”
Revis agrees, and he humbly credits all of his teammates for the outcome.
“I’m not going to put it on me,” he said. “I’m one piece to this puzzle. This is not tennis, this is not golf. As a whole, I think our defense played well. We all played a part in shutting down Reggie Wayne and Peyton and all those guys.”
In the last game against the Patriots, a 45-3 rout at Foxborough, Revis was mostly on Wes Welker and Ben Tate. He’s unsure what his assignment will be this time around when the Jets (12-5) and Patriots (14-2) meet for a chance to go to the AFC championship game.
“If they want to put me on Danny Woodhead, it really don’t matter,” Revis said. “I just have to do my job and trust my teammates to do their job as well.”
The fact that Revis made the Pro Bowl for the third straight year despite no interceptions speaks to the respect players, coaches and fans have for him. Revis has 16 career interceptions, including two last postseason, and wouldn’t mind adding to his collection against Tom Brady.
“You’ve got to think twice before throwing it that way,” Pool said, “because it’s usually a win-win situation for Darrelle.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.