- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2003

Champ Bailey could have given in to the pain of his injured left arm and his bruised psyche. Giving in isn’t in his nature.

The Washington Redskins’ Pro Bowl cornerback yesterday was coming off a game in which he had been beaten for a long touchdown. He was hampered by a sprained left shoulder and a fractured wrist. And he had been flagged for a pass-interference penalty that gave the New England Patriots a first down deep in Redskins territory.

Enough was enough.

Bailey halted the Patriots’ next drive by intercepting quarterback Tom Brady at the Washington 9-yard line, New England’s last possession of the second quarter.

Then, on the first series of the second half, Bailey stripped running back Kevin Faulk at the New England 17. Redskins safety Matt Bowen recovered, running back Ladell Betts scored on the next play, and the Redskins were on their way to a 20-17 victory.

“I never get down,” Bailey said. “I don’t care if [I make] a bad play, I’m going to come back like it never happened. After the touchdown last week, I had a great game. I try to give everything I can whether it’s tackling or covering guys. That’s just the way I play.”

Cornerbacks usually aren’t depicted as being as tough as linemen, but Bailey didn’t start all 70 games of his five-year Redskins career by being soft.

“I’m hurting bad right now, but I’ll never miss practice,” Bailey said, rubbing his wrist. “As long as I can walk I’ll be out there. You just have to fight through injuries. Two years ago before the Monday night game against Dallas, I could barely walk the day before but I played OK.”

Bailey is always better than OK, and he knows it.

Asked if the Patriots tested him because he gave up a 54-yard touchdown last week against the New York Giants, Bailey smiled.

“Probably. … Maybe Tom Brady isn’t a very bright guy,” he said.

Brady, in fact, did not look good testing Bailey on first-and-10 at the Washington 41. His pass was underthrown, and Bailey took it.

“All I remember is the ball being near me and knowing I was going to go get it,” Bailey said.

That’s more than Bailey remembered of the second turnover he forced.

“I guess [Faulk] had the ball in his right hand and I hit it with my left, but I don’t even remember causing the fumble,” Bailey said. “I didn’t see it. I was celebrating making the tackle.”

Bailey said his contract problems — negotiations on an extension are stalled, and he faces the possibility of being named the club’s franchise player in March — don’t affect him on the field.

“That will take care of itself,” Bailey said. “I don’t even think about that. All I’m thinking about is whipping the guy in front of me.”

And helping his team win — even if each game this season has been excruciatingly close at the end.

“I hate that we play like that,” Bailey said. “I would love to blow somebody out, but we give [the fans] something good to watch.”

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