6) ANTONIO CROMARTIE'S KICK RETURNS
When Brad Smith went down with a groin injury in the game against the Colts, the Jets feared it would be a huge loss. Enter Antonio Cromartie.
In Smith’s absence, Cromartie has been a godsend, consistently giving the Jets great field position. Against the Colts, Cromartie returned a kick 47 yards to set up the game-winning field goal. Against the Pats, Cromartie had four returns and averaged 25.8 yards. With that kind of advantage on special teams, it takes the pressure off both the Jets' offense and defense. Credit: Getty Images
Antonio Cromartie appeared on Sirius NFL Radio today, which would seem to be a perfect forum for him if he wanted to drop a few expletives to describe Ben Roethlisberger. Howard Stern is just down the dial, after all.
But Cromartie had nothing but nice to say about the Steelers and their quarterback. He still wants to beat them and advance to the Super Bowl, of course, but in keeping with the tone of the week, Cromartie did not have many disparaging things to say about the Steelers.
“We just have to keep playing at a very high level,” he said. “We know they have a great defense and they have a lot of young receivers … and then you have the veteran in Hines Ward. We just have a mission that we do the things we do and make sure that they don’t have any big plays that they can get any momentum on both sides of the ball.”
Asked what makes Roethlisberger so difficult to defender, Cromartie said it is “his ability to extend the play.”
“You think that you have a sack and then he’s outside of the pocket and then guys are not paying attention to their receivers and he gets a chance to throw the ball down the field,” he said. “He has a strong arm to the point where he can throw off-balance throws 50 yards down the field. That’s where he’s great.”
A few other nuggets from the Cromartie interview:
He said he expects Brad Smith to be practicing with the team on Wednesday and playing on Sunday. In fact, he said that the Jets rested Smith as a precaution against the Patriots because they knew they have a great chance to win in New England and they wanted to save him for the AFC title game.
On Dennis Byrd’s speech to the team: “Every guy felt what he was saying. We gave him a standing ovation. Where he’s come from, what he’s been through, from fighting back to being able to walk again. He’s a Jet for life. He’s always talking about being a team player, playing for the guys next to you, and imposing your will on guys. You have to represent the logo that you’re wearing. Just hearing it come from him was very inspirational for us and the whole organization. It was a great feeling. Guys went out and we wanted to make sure we played according to the way he wanted us to play.”
On Deion Branch calling the Jets “classless”: “It was like Revis said, just take your loss and go home and get ready to pack up your stuff. It was a very emotional win … Guys were excited, guys celebrated with each other. That’s what it’s really all about, it’s a team sport and guys get emotional.”
On his role this week: “My mindset is that I’m here for a reason. They brought me in for this particular reason, for games like this. My whole goal, my attitude is just to go in and make sure that I do my job to the best of my ability, to make sure that I’m not giving up big plays. That’s what I’m here for.”
On Bart Scott’s emotions after the game: “He just spoke his mind. That’s one thing everybody knows about Bart, he’s not going to lay down and take back anything that he says. He’s going to speak his mind. He loves Coach Rex, all the guys love Coach Rex. Coach Rex has our backs and we definitely have his. After the game with Pal Santonio (he means ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio) and him talking in the locker room, it just shows the emotion that he has for this game and what he is willing to do for Coach Ryan and his teammates. Everyone was denying us that we weren’t going to win and we went out and won the game. That speaks volumes.”