It was a throwback performance, reminiscent of the days of Jim Thorpe, when players would play every snap and crowds were filled with men in suits and women in long dress coats.
The setting has changed, but Antonio Cromartie’s contributions in every facet of the game in Sunday’s 32-3 win over the Jaguars underscored the special talent the Jets cornerback possesses.
Cromartie’s role in the blowout at MetLife Stadium was more than just another player acting out his role on the field. It was a reminder of what a tremendous athlete Cromartie is. It also showed that he can be one of the best and most versatile athletes in the league on any given Sunday. It was a sit up and take note performance from the Jets cornerback.
The kind of showing that has been too rare for a 6-foot-2 cornerback who ran a 4.38 time in the 40 at the NFL Combine prior to being taken in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft. The intangibles are always there for Cromartie, but consistency has always been an issue.
Sunday he had two tackles, two interceptions, two returns and one catch, contributing in all three phases of the game. And if Antonio Cromartie ran out onto the field in the fourth quarter to try a point-after attempt, no one in the stadium would have doubted that he could nail it right down the middle.
And the fact that it comes after his disappointing showing in Week 1 on the Cowboys Dez Bryant only makes it sweeter. It got so bad for Cromartie that in the second series for Dallas, after Bryant had physically dominated him for the game’s first touchdown, Darrelle Revis was switched over to the wide receiver. It was a slap in the face, but Cromartie never pouted and he ended up rebounding for a solid final three quarters in the Week 1 comeback win.
“He might not have had the best game, but there are very few corners that can line up and play as much man as we do, and still be out there swinging. He never flinched,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “I hope teams keep taking shots at ‘Cro.’”
Cromartie began with two first-quarter kickoff returns for a combined 83 yards and then in the second and third quarter he had key interceptions that kept the Jaguars from gaining any momentum. It was the kind of vintage performance from Cromartie that made him a Pro Bowl selection while in San Diego in 2007.
It was also the kind of performance that softens the blow of the Jets swinging and missing in their pursuit of free-agent cornerback Namdi Asomugha this offseason.
“For the first one, they had a big third down-to-go down. They ended up running a double post from a formation we’ve already seen on film, so it was just something where once I saw the inside guy come outside and try to break for the inside and do a double-post, I tried to jump on it,” Cromartie said. “The second one was just in man-to-man coverage. It was third-and shot and they were either going to try to go quick or hit him with a deep ball, so we just all played our technique and we came away with a big play.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for team news and live updates from practice.