Demaryius Thomas got the better of Darrelle Revis on this pass play from 2010 when Revis was with the Jets. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Each week, we’ll present The Darrelle Revis Report, a look at what’s on tap for the Patriots cornerback. This week, New England will host the Broncos in a matchup that will give the winner the inside track when it comes to supremacy in the AFC.
Last week: In one of the best performances of his relatively short career with the Patriots, Revis was able to render Brandon Marshall a nonfactor in Sunday’s win over the Bears. Revis allowed one catch (on six targets) for 8 yards while working mostly against Marshall.
(There was one play where it’s unclear as to whether or not Revis was the one at fault when it came to coverage — on a quick out to Alshon Jeffery when the Bears had receivers stacked on the right side, Revis was essentially blocked out of the play. The completion to Jeffery led to a 15-yard pickup. He was in the neighborhood, but it was hard to see who exactly was at fault in coverage.)
The Patriots appeared to work in multiple coverage sets throughout the game, with Revis and the rest of the defensive backs throwing different looks at the Bears throughout the contest. For the first time all year, he was almost exclusively on the left side. Of his 60 snaps on Sunday, we had him on the left side for 48 of them, while he was on the right for 12.
In all, by our highly unscientific count, in eight games, Revis has yielded 19 catches on 38 targets for 271 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Looking ahead: Revis and the rest of the New England secondary will face their biggest test of the season against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Denver has a fleet of talented pass catchers, including wide receivers Demaryius Thomas (47 catches, 767 yards, six TDs) and Emmanuel Sanders (47 catches, 634 yards and four TDs), as well as tight end Julius Thomas (30 catches, 327 yards and nine TDs).
“It’s going to be exciting,” Revis said of the showdown with the Broncos. “It kind of reminds me of back in New York when we played against the Patriots.
“We know what’s at stake. We know Denver is a great team. At the same time, we’re trying to accomplish something like they are too. It’s the battle of the AFC. We understand. We totally understand. It’s two great quarterbacks going against each other. We’re going to have to duke it out.”
Revis has faced Manning three times in his career — twice in the playoffs — and has a 2-1 mark against the quarterback, with his only loss coming in the 2009 AFC title game.
Their first meeting came in 2009, and the Colts came into the contest with a 14-0 record. In that one, coach Jim Caldwell decided to yank Manning in the second half, which ultimately paved the way for a 29-15 New York upset. While it’s unclear how much man coverage Revis played against Indy’s top receiver in Reggie Wayne in that one, Wayne had three catches for 33 yards.
The two met again the following month in the AFC title game. The Colts won that one, 30-17, with Wayne coming away with three catches for 55 yards.
New York also took home a 17-16 win in a wild-card contest against the Colts on Jan. 8, 2011 — the last game Manning played as a member of the Colts. Again, Wayne was held almost completely in check with just one catch for one yard.
Overall, Revis has never picked off Manning, but he’s posted eight tackles in three games against the quarterback. Manning’s per game averages against Revis-led defenses are 19-of-28 for 264 yards, 1.3 touchdowns and no picks.
Possible man matchups this week (with the understanding that it won’t solely be one on one): There are a few possibilities when you’re talking about matchups with the Denver offense — and there remains the very real likelihood that Revis spends most of his time opposite Demaryius Thomas. Manning’s chief option in the passing game is Thomas has emerged as one of the best young receivers in the league.
Unlike Sammy Watkins — who was pretty sure he was going to face Revis when the Patriots met the Bills — Thomas said this week that he’s not sure who he’ll see when he lines up against New England on Sunday.
“I think so,” he said when asked if he’ll face Revis. “I can’t say, I don’t really know what they’re going to do because I’ve got [WR] Emmanuel [Sanders] on the other side. For the Cardinals’ game, I thought I was going to have Patrick Peterson and [Sanders] had Patrick Peterson so I can’t say right now. I don’t really know.”
Revis has faced an offense with Thomas on two occasions, both when the cornerback was with the Jets: the first game was on Oct. 17, 2010, and Thomas had one catch for 17 yards (which went for a touchdown) in a 24-20 win for New York. (Revis had three tackles in the contest.) The second game was on Nov. 17, 2011, and Thomas had two catches for 37 yards in a memorable 17-13 win for the Broncos that featured a fourth-quarter comeback generated by Denver quarterback Tim Tebow. (Revis had a pair of tackles in that loss.)
Money quotes: “The guy has been a perennial Pro Bowler. He’s got size. He’s got length. He’s a quality player at his position in the league. He’s been around a little bit, so he’s a smart, tough, athletic guy that covers very well.” — Denver coach John Fox on Revis
“I’ve gone up against some good ones. I went up against Aqib [Talib] last year and I can say he’s the best I went against last year. I know Revis is another great player and I’m looking forward to playing him, but I’ve gone up against some good ones.” — Demaryius Thomas on the prospect of facing Revis
“Certainly, it’s a great challenge playing against him. He’s just a top-notch cover corner that has great ball skills and great quickness, hip transition … all the characteristics of a great cover corner.” — Manning on Revis
One more thing: While a Demaryius Thomas-Revis matchup makes sense on paper, there is something to the idea of Brandon Browner spending some time squaring off against the speedy receiver. Thomas is one of the best receivers in the league when it comes to racking up yards after the catch. He’s fourth in the NFL with 342 yards. Brandon Browner is one of the best in the league over the last year-plus. According to Pro Football Focus, he yielded just two YAC on three passes in Browner’s neighborhood last week against the Bears. Of course, this isn’t new for Browner — he’s always been one of the best corners in the league when it comes to limiting YAC. According to Football Outsiders, in his eight games in 2013, he yielded an average of just 1.8 yards after the catch, tied for the league lead with Jabari Greer.