LANDOVER — A pack of reporters descended upon Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland, but if they were looking for contrition he had something else to offer: Defiance.
Breeland spent the better part of a humbling 38-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night chasing star wide receiver Antonio Brown around FedEx Field. It didn’t go well.
Brown finished with eight receptions – two of them touchdowns with Breeland covering him. Washington’s coaching staff had enough confidence in its third-year cornerback to let him handle Brown when necessary. He has done battle with the likes of Odell Beckham, Jr. and Dez Bryant before, after all, and come through okay.
Brown is in their league. He might be better. After leading the NFL in receptions last season (136), Brown is at the height of his powers at 28. His 126-yard effort against the Redskins was a thing of beauty. Pittsburgh found ways to get Brown away from Redskins star corner Josh Norman, the expected matchup for most of the night. Breeland paid the price.
“It wasn’t intended. It was how the match up fell,” Breeland said. “I guess the game plan, they wanted him to be on me and that’s how it went.”
He paused and scanned the group: “I hope y’all don’t think I’m gonna hang my head or nothing like that.”
That’s not in Breeland’s nature even after a beating like the one he took on Monday. On one second-quarter pass – 29 yards into the end zone on 4th-and-one – Breeland got his hands on the ball. It was his play to make. Instead, Brown ripped it away from him as the two men fell to the turf and secured the touchdown.
Breeland tried to adjust. But it seemed like every time he did, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Brown had something else in mind for him.
“I jammed him. They go over the top. I play high, they throw the back shoulder,” Breeland said. “It was like they were playing the guessing game. He was like, ‘I’m gonna make the play’ and he made the play.”
This was said with no remorse or embarrassment. Those are things that can erode a cornerback’s confidence and once that happens…Well, you know the story. Instead, Breeland conceded defeat while hoping for a rematch. He acknowledged some missed tackles, but in the same breath claimed “I’m one of the best tackling DBs in this league.”
The chances of Breeland seeing Brown again are remote, of course. The two teams next play in 2020 in Pittsburgh. The NFL lifespan is too short to look that far ahead. The only other chance would be in a Super Bowl. That seems…unlikely. But the facts of the day can’t matter to a cornerback. Reality must be discarded. Memories are short. Confidence is king.
“Yeah. We’re gonna meet again and I’m looking forward to it,” Breeland said. “He got this one. The next one will be mine.”
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