- The Washington Times - Monday, December 3, 2001

Cornerbacks often are like umpires. One wrong decision, and a day's worth of the right calls are forgotten.
One bad move by Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey was enough for Dallas Cowboys receiver Rocket Ismail to race by him and score a 64-yard touchdown that sealed Dallas' 20-14 upset of the red-hot Washington Redskins yesterday in Landover.
The NFC East cellar-dwelling Cowboys led 10-7 and faced third-and-8 at their own 36-yard line with 6:23 remaining. Rookie quarterback Quincy Carter who used to throw passes to Bailey when they were teammates at the University of Georgia called an audible and spotted Ismail streaking past Bailey. Carter's pass was on the money, and suddenly Dallas' lead had grown to a decisive 10 points.
"I was expecting a curl [pattern] or something short," Bailey said. "I can't guess, and they caught me guessing. Everything initially was good. I jammed him real well at the line. But he's real fast, and I let him get away from me."
Said Ismail: "I saw Champ in my peripheral vision. … He kind of hesitated for a nanosecond."
Dallas coach Dave Campo said the Cowboys were fortunate to take a shot with Washington's corners playing press (tight man-to-man) coverage. When Ismail got past Bailey, there was no safety help on the way.
Ismail beat Bailey for completions of 13 and 16 yards on the opening drive, which ended with halfback Emmitt Smith running right and avoiding Bailey en route to a 5-yard touchdown. Otherwise, Ismail was shut out until the late touchdown. But all of Bailey's small victories were inconsequential because he was beaten on the play that really counted.
"I wouldn't say it was a tough day," Bailey said. "You're going to get some passes caught on you. The ones Rocket caught, I was right there. Quincy is a very confident guy, and he's going to make some plays. They only got three [catches] on me, but the deep ones really hurt. If I could take that one away, it would be a good day."
You can't take it away, of course, but Bailey already was doing his best.
"I'm trying to forget it, but you guys won't let me," he said. "I'm still playing at a [Pro Bowl level]. I hate to say it, but things like this are going to happen. I've got to get ready for another great receiver [Arizonas David Boston] next week."
After getting beaten for a long touchdown in Week 2 at Green Bay and two more scores in Week 4 at Giants Stadium, Bailey had returned to his Pro Bowl form of last year during Washington's just-ended five-game winning streak. Assigned to shadow Carolina's Muhsin Muhammad, Seattle's Darrell Jackson, Denver's Rod Smith and Philadelphia's James Thrash, he clearly won all those battles (Bailey didn't cover a specific receiver in the victory over the New York Giants). Only Jackson made a big play, and his 46-yard touchdown was against zone coverage.
"I told Champ when we we were walking off the field today, 'I know this doesn't mean a hill of beans, but you're still playing great,'" said Redskins corner Darrell Green, in his 19th year. "Great corners are born, not made. A part of that is having a short memory; being able to have a play like that made against you and not having to go and flush your goldfish or shoot your dog. You keep going. The job is too tough week-in and week-out. Either you have the gift or you don't. I don't care about one touchdown against him, Champ is still at the top of the cornerbacks in this league."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide