FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The pain sliced through his knee like a knife.
And in that instant -- as he lay writhing in agony, clutching his leg on the Sun Life Stadium turf -- Darrelle Revis knew his NFL season was over.
But great athletes never hesitate in the face of a great challenge. And the Jets' All-Pro cornerback will set out to prove over the next four to six months that he can overcome the biggest obstacle of his professional career.
In his first interview since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee three weeks ago, Revis expressed no bitterness about his season-ending injury. That's because he has no doubt he'll be a shutdown cornerback again.
"There's no question that [I'll] be back to where I was . . . and doing what I do best," he said Monday morning, a day before his scheduled surgery.
Noted orthopedic surgeon Russell Warren -- who also happens to be the Giants' team physician -- will perform a patellar tendon graft on Revis' knee Tuesday morning at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.
"As soon as I feel 100 percent, then I'll be ready to go," said the four-time Pro Bowler, who expects to start jogging in 12 to 16 weeks. "Whether that's January, February, March, April -- it doesn't matter."
Revis has gone from being the NFL's premier corner to being "the biggest cheerleader I can."
"It's been up and down for me," he admitted. "It really has."
Revis' season ended in Miami on Sept. 23, three days after he was cleared for contact following a concussion suffered in the season opener. Late in the third quarter against the Dolphins, he tried to get in position to make a tackle on running back Daniel Thomas. But his cleat got caught in the turf, causing his knee to shift.
"It felt like somebody had a knife and just cut through my knee," Revis said. "It's crazy because I've made that cut a thousand, a million times."
His latest injury now raises questions about his contract status, the biggest of which is: will the Jets pay up? Revis -- who has two years left on the front-loaded four-year, $46-million deal he signed in 2010 -- considered staging a second holdout this offseason after he didn't get a new contract. Now he knows he'll have to show the Jets he still can be the best defensive player in the game.
"Every year, you've got to come in here and prove yourself," he said. "But I'm sure I might raise people's eyebrows about how I'm going to look when I come back. I'm OK with that. I wouldn't expect anything less."
Revis has remained holed up in the team's practice facility, rehabbing in order to regain range of motion in his knee and to strengthen the surrounding muscles. For fear of being a distraction, he chose not to attend meetings. Even without his man-cover skills, he believes "the sky's the limit" for the Jets (3-3).
But right now, Revis has a singular objective: getting healthy.
"The focus shouldn't really be on me. I'm out," he said, adding that Sunday's 35-9 win over the Colts was "awesome." He also praised the play of Antonio Cromartie, who has stepped up significantly in his absence.
But the NFL's top shutdown corner -- who was filmed Monday by an NFL Network crew for an upcoming documentary about his recovery -- has every intention of reopening "Revis Island" next season.
"This is all new for me, but I'm a hard worker," Revis said, adding that everything happens for a reason. "I know I'm going to work my butt off and get back to where I need to be."