Rex Ryan may not take any of this AFC Championship Game stuff personally, but Darrelle Revis does.
One of the best shutdown cornerbacks in the NFL, Revis would love nothing better than to put one or both of Ben Roethlisberger’s big-play receivers, Hines Ward and Mike Wallace, on Revis Island. But not because he holds any hard feelings toward them.
The 25-year-old Revis grew up in nearby Aliquippa, Pa., and attended the University of Pittsburgh. So winning the AFC Championship on Sunday at Heinz Field, where he played in college, would go as a personal highlight.
“[Defensive end] Jason Taylor’s from there, too,” Revis told reporters on Wednesday. “We talk about it all the time. It’s the AFC Championship game, but it’s more personal to me and Jason Taylor.”
Revis, of course, brings no shortage of confidence to this game, for good reason. He took Ward out of their Week 15 meeting, limiting him to 34 yards on two catches. Asked whether Revis will defend Ward or Wallace this time around, the coach would only say jokingly that he “won’t line him up on [guard Chris] Kemoeatu, I’ll make sure of that.”
Revis and Antonio Cromartie could emerge as the two biggest defensive reasons for the Jets advancing to their first Super Bowl in 42 years, if things work out right. But that’s a big if, considering quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is one of the NFL’s great masters of improvisation. If the front seven doesn’t surround the bulky quarterback, it could turn into a long day downfield for Cromartie and Revis — and yet another empty offseason.
But Ryan has faith in Revis, which is not unwarranted.
“It’s not like he’s just playing corner,” Ryan said. “We give him the toughest down. No help, and the offense knows you have no help.
“As poor a situation as you can put a guy in, we do that with Darrelle,” Ryan added. “I’m sure he’s happy he’s a Jet.”
Revis is up for it, though. Why not? He’s playing in the game of his life.
“My personal goals are set high, and one of them was winning this game and going to the Super Bowl,” Revis said. “Just getting here was everybody’s mind-set, just getting to the Super Bowl and winning.”