BALTIMORE - The crowd dispersed, giving Antonio Cromartie a moment for some honest self-reflection.
He's played through nagging hip pain for the bulk of the season, and as the leader of the Jets' secondary, he has given no excuses. But after a performance in which he was torched by Torrey Smith on a 60-yard completion, Cromartie conceded his injury is an issue.
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"Lately, it's maybe been hurting us just from the standpoint of I'm hurting,'' he said after the Jets' 19-3 loss to the Ravens on Sunday. "I'm just trying to fight through it and play football the best way I can.''
He watched the final minutes of the fourth quarter from the sideline because of his injury.
"I planted wrong and it gave out on me a little bit. This is the first time, really, this season that it's really bothered me this much besides when it happened in 2008,'' Cromartie said, referring to the hip fracture he sustained when he was with the Chargers.
It's been a familiar postgame scene these past few weeks: The Jets' No. 1 cornerback fielding questions about the deep-ball completions that seem to easily go over his head. Each week, Cromartie promises to do better and to use proper technique -- and each week, he explains why those things didn't happen on yet another back-breaking play.
Ten months after representing the Jets in the Pro Bowl, he finds himself in unfamiliar territory: being a potential weak link in their secondary.
"I was healthy last year, too,'' he said with a chuckle, referring to the difference in his game. "But at the end of the day, if I'm on the field, I'm 100 percent. And that's how I approach it. I feel that when I'm on the field, I can give our team a better chance of playing better defense and getting the right calls that we need to try to get in.''
Entering Sunday's game, Cromartie had allowed completions of 43, 53 and 60 yards in the three previous games. He intercepted a poorly thrown pass by Joe Flacco -- his second pick in three games -- but Smith easily beat Cromartie down the sideline on the 60-yard catch.