NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Friday, October 30, 2015, 12:54 AM
Darrelle Revis is still one of the game’s top cornerbacks, but there’s no escaping this truth: The air of invincibility is gone.
Revis Island remains an annoying place for wide receivers, but it’s no longer the Bermuda Triangle. He is no longer Superman, either. He bleeds. It turns out that he is, in fact, human.
The perennial Pro Bowler is far from finished — Father Time hasn’t sapped him of all his superpowers — but there have been growing signs of vulnerability that shouldn’t be ignored. Don’t get it twisted: No. 24 remains a weekly headache for offensive coordinators, but his days of consistently erasing an opponents’ top threat are gone.
Revis isn’t what he once was — none of us are — but the expectations remain sky high. Perhaps it’s unfair to believe that a 30-year-old cornerback with a surgically repaired knee can replicate his exploits as a younger man. It was unrealistic to think that the Jets were getting the same shutdown force that turned in arguably the single best season for a cornerback in NFL history six year ago.
Revis’ magical 2009 campaign might never be duplicated… by anyone. He silenced superstars with uncanny precision. He matched up against six 1,000-yard receivers that combined for 59 touchdowns that season. He allowed an average of 3.8 receptions for 44 yards to those six players. He set a single-season record with 31 passes defended during a run that should have helped earn him Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Revis’ reunion with his old team has yielded solid — but not spectacular — results. Revis is still the Jets’ top cornerback, but he has looked vulnerable at times despite not lining up against elite receivers through the first six games.
Washington’s Pierre Garcon made Revis look silly on a 2-yard touchdown reception two weeks ago. Patriots’ wideout Julian Edelman beat Revis clean with his quickness before dropping an easy 6-yard touchdown last week. Both sights used to be inconceivable.
Revis might have been beaten from time to time in the past, but he was rarely, if ever, embarrassed.
There have been undeniable pockets of shaky play, but Revis has played fairly well for the most part. His three interceptions and three fumble recoveries shouldn’t be dismissed. He’s still the heartbeat of one of the most formidable secondaries in the league.
Revis marginalized Colts’ speedster T.Y. Hilton in Week 2, but Andrew Luck’s top threat was playing with a bruised knee. Revis also neutralized Dolphins second-year wideout Jarvis Landry.
He won’t face a truly elite talent, however, until he matches up against Raiders’ rookie sensation Amari Cooper on Sunday in The Black Hole.
Revis uncharacteristically declined to talk to reporters in the locker room Thursday in the run-up to his toughest challenge through seven weeks. He knows that he’ll be tested in a way that he hasn’t been to this point in the season.
Brandon Marshall called Cooper a cross between A.J. Green and Chad Johnson. Buster Skrine believes the rookie with 33 receptions for 519 yards (15.7 ypc) and three touchdowns already is one of the best at his position.
“Rarely do you see receivers come out of college… able to run patterns,” Bowles said of the No. 4 overall pick. “A route runner is more dangerous than just a speed guy or a big receiver. He can do both.”
The 6-1 Cooper, tops in the league with 302 yards after the catch, seemingly has everything except freakish size. He’s the fifth rookie with at least 500 yards in his first six career games and the first with three 100-yard receiving games in that span since Mike Ditka in 1961.
Cooper has already found success against one of the game’s top cornerbacks with his six-catch, 87-yard performance against Browns Pro Bowler Joe Haden.
Revis, of course, has seen and heard it all before. More times than not, the six-time Pro Bowl cornerback has won anticipated head-to-head matchups. Revis’ physical gifts might be slipping — some believe he looks slower — but his football mind is as sharp as ever. His study habits remain unmatched.
“Obviously,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said, “he’s a student of the game, because you can see how he anticipates route combinations.”
Revis is staring at a litany of challenging receivers over the final 10 weeks, including Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant.
There was a time not long ago when the outcomes of those matchups were predictable. Nobody escaped Revis Island.
Now, there’s at least some doubt.