Aaron Ross was fine, a perfectly capable and healthy cornerback.
And yet, there he was, sitting on the Giants bench in the third quarter, wearing a look of frustration and disappointment.
Ross had made some plays, sure, in the form of three passes defended.
But it was the plays he didn’t make that forced him to the pine.
Two passes had gone Danario Alexander's way, both times with Ross defending. And both times, Alexander was able to burn Ross for big gains: first, a 68-yarder in the first quarter, and then a 35-yarder in the third.
The gaffes prompted Tom Coughlin to make a change. Ross was out. Michael Coe was in.
“It was an attempt to find a solution to one of the problems we were having,” Coughlin said. “There’s nothing wrong with playing a lot of people. It’s not an indictment on anybody. Just trying to solve an issue.”
Ross was none-too-pleased. He eventually returned to the game after Coe got burned by Alexander for a 19-yard touchdown late in the third, and also served as the punt returner after Domenik Hixon was injured.
Still, Ross declined to comment on his brief demotion to reporters after the game, leaving his teammates to speak for him.
“He’s got a good spirit right now,” Deon Grant, who was just as responsible as Ross for Alexander's 68-yard catch, said. “One thing about it is he’s still able to put on that uniform, so he’s gotta thank God for that, and when you get out there you just gotta make sure that you make them apologize for [benching you].”
While Ross was sitting on the bench, Grant sought him out and opted to give him some words of encouragement. After all, Grant had been in Ross’ shoes before.
“I told him it happened to me before,” Grant said. “I said it happened to me before in a situation where it was the total opposite: I had a great game. I had a great game and said something that my coach didn’t like at halftime, and in the second half I didn’t play at all.
“One thing about that is you look at it and you’re gonna have days like that, but he didn’t just get killed the whole game. He had what, three pass deflections? He broke three passes up, you know what i mean? So he had two long balls on him. That’s gonna happen. He’ll bounce back. I’m gonna make sure he bounces back, if I got anything to do with it.”
David Diehl also went over to talk to Ross and try to keep his spirits up.
“When you see one of your teammates is frustrated or down, you go and you pick him up. That’s part of being a teammate, and he’s a crucial guy on our team. I think the frustration and all that stuff is part of being a player, and you want to make every play, but sometimes it happens to all of us. Someone’s gotta smack him and say, 'Get up, you’re all right.' It’s just part of being a teammate and we need him.”
No question about that. With Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamara out, there’s really no other alternative.
Aaron Ross was once a coveted player, one the Giants snatched in the first round out of Texas five seasons ago.
But injuries have clearly taken their toll. Ross isn’t what he once was.
He likes to gamble. Take chances.
Sometimes they work. And sometimes they don’t.