NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas
On the surface, Darrelle Revis did not stand apart against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night. But when the five-time Pro Bowler left the New England Patriots’ secondary with four minutes left in the third, it only took one play for A.J. Green to illustrate his absence.
A crisp corner route by the 6’4”, 207-pound wideout netted a 17-yard touchdown as Revis headed to the locker room. Quarterback Andy Dalton delivered a well-placed ball, and there was little second-year cornerback Logan Ryan could do to prevent it from whistling over his shoulders.
There was little the Patriots could to prevent the difference, either.
But Revis did return to the field. He finished having played 51 defensive snaps. And he finished having played to his man-to-man strengths, holding Green to three receptions for 64 yards on seven penalty-including targets.
Here is a closer look at each one.
7:57 – First Quarter: Stutter Fade Ends in a Called-Back Pick
The first time Revis was tried was on a 1st-and-10 with 7:57 to go in the first quarter. At that juncture, New England assembled in a single-high defensive backfield, sending free safety Devin McCourty deep and strong safety Patrick Chung to the line.
Revis matched up in man versus Green on the outskirts of Cincinnati’s “11” personnel. The three-time 1,000-yard receiver was set to run a stutter fade. With an outside release, he did so. And, chopping his strides 10 yards downfield, Green looked back to the QB to sell the hitch.
Revis did not bite. He maintained inside technique, matching Green step for step with his right hand in the route-runner’s hip pocket. And from there, Dalton launched a pass in their vicinity.
The 5’11”, 198-pound corner left his feet to intercept it.
But there were flags. Illegal use of hands was called on the Bengals, and illegal contact was called on Revis at the spot of the double move. Both offset; in turn, leaving the play without an existence.
7:04 – First Quarter: Stutter Fade Ends in an Incompletion
Less than a minute after Revis’ second interception of the season was flagged down, the Bengals returned to his side of the field on a 2nd-and-5 with 7:04 left in the first. The offense sought to do so via “12” personnel and a variation of the same fade route to Green.
Dalton took the snap and Revis afforded Green a subtle cushion off the line. The Georgia standout worked his way past the sticks, faking a fade stop back to the sideline in the process. It did not, however, end in separation from his opponent as the receiver continued back down the field.
With that, Dalton took a shot.
The ball landed out of bounds, just right of the front pylon. Revis was in position on Green for the duration of the play, and the result was thrown where neither of them could snare it.
13:53 – Second Quarter: Fade Ends in an Incompletion
As the second frame opened up, Cincinnati’s passing game aimed to do the same. On a 1st-and-10 with 13:53 to play in the first half, the offense went back to “11” and Green went back to testing Revis vertically on another fade pattern. And with only McCourty in center field, the possibilities looked appealing pre-snap.
Post-snap, Green circled around Revis without press. By the time he surpassed the 50-yard line, he had a yard on the corner.
The ball left Dalton’s hand and McCourty closed from over the top.
The ball proceeded to land out of bounds, and Green walked back to the huddle without it.
6:46 – Second Quarter: Seam Route Ends in an Incompletion, Holding
In the red zone on a 3rd-and-7, the Bengals tried a different formula. With just under seven minutes remaining before intermission, the offense went to shotgun, implementing a one-back, one-tight end set, as well as trips right. Within it, Cincinnati aligned Green in the slot as the middle receiver.
This time, he wasn’t orchestrated to run a fade. With two receivers expected to bring deep safety Duron Harmon up to defend a pair of crossing patterns, Green was orchestrated to run a seam route.
Dalton harnessed the snap as Green cut inside Revis’ jam. He grew even, and he was leavin’.
Harmon stayed at home, though. And consequently, Revis and the 2013 third-rounder were able to sandwich Green at the fringe of the end zone. The ball soared over them to fall incomplete. Yet as it did, Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was called for holding, turning fourth down into first.
1:08 – Second Quarter: Deep Over Ends in a 19-Yard Completion, Fumble
There were no flags thrown when Green faced off with Revis just a minute before halftime. On 1st-and-10 out of trips right and “11” personnel, Chung dropped down cover the inside receiver while Harmon covered the deep half.
Green plotted a deep over. He and Revis lingered out right as the play got underway.
Revis extended his arms to re-route his assignment, but Green withstood it and established the inside turf. From there, there would be no advantage for former New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back. Green had cut across the field, underneath four Patriots and ahead of Revis.
Dalton rifled a pass in Green’s direction. He caught it and turned upfield before Revis appeared in his rearview. And when he did, the collision jarred the ball free. Green’s first reception in Revis’ coverage gained 19 yards, but it ultimately ended in a different kind of loss as New England recovered.
5:24 – Third Quarter: Go Route Ends in a 35-Yard Completion
By the time Green was thrown to again, nearly 10 minutes of the third quarter had transpired. It was 1st-and-10, and the Bengals broke huddle from “10” personnel.
Dalton stood in shotgun with one receiver to his left and three bunched to his right. The bunched trio was set to challenge New England’s coverage with play action, as well as three layers – a check-down screen, a wheel route, and a go route.
Green got into his stance for the go route. Revis waited, seven yards off as the snap was taken.
Green bypassed him. Dalton’s pass was thrown where only he could get it. And he did get it, diving to his knees inside the New England 40. The connection picked up 35 yards.
14:20 – Fourth Quarter: Curl Route Ends in a 10-Yard Completion
Revis left the game with a hamstring injury not long after Green’s 35-yard grab. But he returned to be challenged one more time, just 40 seconds into the final quarter.
On 2nd-and-10, New England utilized a 3-3 nickel, and called upon Chung to defend tight end Jermaine Gresham. That left Harmon on Revis’ half of the field, where the Bengals looked to isolate Green away from congested coverage.
Dalton took a three-step drop from shotgun, and an outside-releasing curl route became the plan for his No. 1 receiver.
Revis mirrored Green’s swooping turn down the boundary. But as Green hit the 25-yard line, the swooping vertical pattern was cut off. He did not tip his hand by shortening his swinging arms, nor did he plant his feet for the pivot; he simply flipped his hips and landed on a dime.
By then, Dalton had already found him for 10 yards and a first.
But it would not alter the outcome of what took place at Gillette Stadium in Week 5. And while New England’s 43-17 victory over Cincinnati may not have hinged on the performance of one particular player, it very well could have if not for the presence of No. 24.
If he was not there, it very well could have been No. 18.