#5: Terence Newman puts himself on the map
Week 11; Washington Redskins versus Dallas Cowboys
Week 12; New York Jets versus Dallas Cowboys
Anyone who is a Dallas Cowboys fan knows how great Terence Newman is. He is exceptionally fast, strong, smart, a sure tackler and most importantly a shut down corner. Maybe once a year does a team complete a touchdown pass to a receiver covered by him. Unfortunately, outside of the Dallas media he is not put in the same echelon of top cornerbacks from around the league. He doesn't have the sexy interception numbers and he rarely has a highlight on ESPN. He plays the game safe, takes few chances and focuses on shutting down the receiver he is assigned to cover. For some reason, that always seemed to be a huge drawback in his game. You would hear "experts" say things like, "..well he's good, but he just doesn't put up the interception totals you would like from a #1 cornerback." They just ignore the fact that it is pretty tough to put up big numbers when the ball is rarely thrown in your direction, if at all.
As the 2007 season began it was unclear how effective Newman would be. Late in training camp it came out that he was battling plantar fascitis, a slight tear in the muscle in the arch of your foot. This type of injury typically requires months of limited to no movement at all in order for the tear to heal. Newman was inactive for the first two weeks, and played in a limited reserve role in weeks 3 and 4. He started every game for the rest of the season, playing through an injury that at time was obviously affecting his play. It seemed unlikely that this would finally be the year the league and fans acknowledged his ability and named him to his first Pro Bowl.
Newman played exceptional all year, despite his injury. In his first game as a starter against Buffalo, he made a key red zone interception that kept the Cowboys alive.
In week 11 against the Redskins, Newman stepped up and made a game saving interception.
It seemed as if the Cowboys had put the Redskins away for good as the Tony Romo and Terrell Owens show had put two fourth quarter touchdowns on the board, putting Dallas ahead 28-16 with eight minutes to play. After a long scoring drive by Washington and a three and out by Dallas, the Redskins had the ball on the Dallas 40, down 28-23, with just under three minutes remaining. The way that Jason Campbell had been tearing apart the Cowboys on third down all day long, it seemed inevitable that the Redskins would score the go ahead touchdown. When Campbell struck for two quick first downs, Washington was inside the 20 at the two minute warning. Two incompletions later, the Redskins faced a critical third down from the 19 yard line. Campbell went back to pass, gets flushed from the pockets and rolls to his right. He sees Antwan Randle El momentarily open as he crosses in front of him and tries to zing a tight pass across his body to the receiver. Terence Newman casually slides in front of Randle El and intercepts the pass, ending any hope of a Redskins comeback.
The next week against the Jets when Kellen Clemens looked like he might be starting to find a rhythm, Newman dashed in front of a quick out pass and returns the interception 50 yards for a touchdown. Those two back to back games against the Jets and Redskins were the crowning achievement for a remarkable year for Newman. Playing through a painful injury, he did his best to hold together an injury-plagued group of cornerbacks. He made game saving plays all year. He was then named to his first ever Pro Bowl. After years of being thought of as good but just not great enough, Newman had been recognized by the fans and his peers as one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
Watch highlights from the Washington game here.
Watch highlights from the Jets game here.