FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Thousands of feet in the sky, Antonio Cromartie's career changed.
As the cornerback talked with fellow corner Darrelle Revis on the team's flight home from Pittsburgh following a 27-10 loss on Sept. 16, Revis told Cromartie there was untapped potential in his game. The NFL's best corner wanted to see Cromartie take his play to that of upper echelon corners.
"We expect so much out of each other and he just came to me and told me what he expected from me," Cromartie said. "I made sure I lived up to what his expectation was on the football field."
As Cromartie has established himself as one of the best corners in the league this season, he credits his talk with Revis as the turning point in his play. It's been crucial to the Jets that Cromartie has played well this year, since Revis tore an ACL just a week after their talk and wass lost for the season.
"It took for him to come to me as a peer to make me understand we can have one of the greatest one-two punches at the corners with me playing at this level," Cromartie said. "Honestly, I thank Revis for coming and talking to me and for being a great teammate and making sure I'm playing at a high level."
Entering his seventh season this year, Cromartie wanted to play better than he did last year, his second as a Jet. He hoped to play at a level his coaches and teammates expected from him, improving his focus and not thinking about the game too much. Cromartie said he's talked with coach Rex Ryan about his play not meeting the expectations of the team.
While it wasn't until Revis' injury that Cromartie started showcasing that he could play corner with the best of them, Cromartie said it shouldn't have taken Revis' absence for him to play like this. After Revis' injury, Cromartie realized he had to be a leader in the secondary, as the youngsters would be looking to him to set an example. More than once he's talked about making sure he's a guiding force in the secondary.
"That's something I took for granted, having Revis on the other side, and not being able to play at that high level when he was here," Cromartie said. "I think the biggest thing for me is to continue to build on it, week after week, and make sure that I continue to be this guy even when Revis comes back next year for the start of training camp."
When the Jets originally acquired Cromartie, they envisioned having a pair of shutdown corners on the outside. Revis has always lived up to his part, but Cromartie's play had been up and down. Now, as Cromartie plays like a Pro Bowler, the Jets can start picturing a dynamic pair next season.
"Both of us playing at a very high level, it makes things easier on the defensive coaches to call the plays and we can get after the quarterback," Cromartie said.