Darrelle Revis shook his head in disbelief. He had just entered the locker room after watching video of the last time the Jets had visited the Bills in Buffalo.
"I looked real young. I know that," he said in the past week. "Last year I was in the slot and I've never played in the slot before. It's crazy inside, man — you don't want to play inside."
In Trent Edwards' first career start, the Bills' rookie passer completed nine of 11 attempts for 83 yards to receivers who were covered by Revis. It was just Revis' fourth professional game and he was left alone often, playing a lot of man-to-man in the Bills' 17-14 win on Sept. 30, 2007.
Thirteen months later, both Edwards and Revis are quietly establishing themselves as young stars in the National Football League. Today's game between the 4-3 Jets and the 5-2 Bills is a critical AFC East matchup and will be broadcast to much of the country by CBS.
"We're not taking it as another game. We know what this game brings," Revis said. "It's a rivalry game and a division game. If we can get a win, we can be contending in the division. We know what's at stake right now and we have to take advantage of our opportunities."
The 5'11", 204-pound Revis has already matched his rookie interception total at three and Edwards has taken notes of his development.
"I think he has stepped his game up a lot this year. I thought he improved a lot from our first game against them last year to our second game against them," Edwards said. "I think he had an interception against me on a corner route that I threw to Roscoe [Parrish] when we were at the Meadowlands last year."
Revis probably should have had two interceptions during that late October contest, but he was accidentally knocked off by safety Abe Elam on a late bomb from backup J.P. Losman to Lee Evans. The young corner was outstanding throughout the afternoon, though, being used as a blitzer in the first half to repeatedly rattle Edwards.
"They're not hiding him this year. He's definitely their cover corner," Edwards said. "They're putting him on their best receiver each week."
The respect is mutual. Revis knows the 6'4", 231-pound Edwards, a 68 percent passer who's thrown only three interceptions this season, is also a vastly improved player.
"He manages the game well. We see that," Revis said. "In his second year, he's poised and relaxed. He's a captain on their team and he's a leader."
Edwards' top receiving target is speedster Lee Evans. They've connected 31 times this season for 637 yards, averaging 20.5 yards a strike.
"Stay back. Stay back. We've seen a lot of plays where he uses double moves and guys fall for the double move," Revis said of Evans. "Sometimes you see a third-and-13 or third-and-15 and they'll just throw a straight go route and he'll just run up under it and catch it. Our coaches are just telling us to stay deep on him and be physical with him at the line."
But Edwards won't force the issue if he doesn't think Evans is open. He reads defenses well and takes what is given to him. The Bills probably won't have Josh Reed's services today but Parrish possesses deadly speed, rookie James Hardy is a tall, rangy target, and both Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson are capable out of the backfield.
"If deep throws are not there, he'll throw the checkdowns," Revis said. "He has no problem. He's not a guy who will force things. That's good on their part that they have him as a quarterback."
The Bills finally feel they have found a franchise passer for the first time since Jim Kelly retired. Edwards plays with veteran poise and usually steps us his game when the game is on the line.
"I do take it very serious. If I weren't to in that way — if I didn't have that nervousness or anxiety in my stomach — I probably wouldn't be taking it seriously enough," he said on a conference call. "I pride myself on the way I prepare. I still do have some problems before the game in terms of vomiting before pregame warmups and before the actual game starts. I'm getting that stomach nausea under control, but it's still there a year later."
A year after their first meeting, both Revis and Edwards are coming into their own and there is a chance they'll be locking horns in these divisional matchups for the next decade. Revis likes this big game feel and he's anxious for their second battle in Buffalo and third overall..
"It's real loud in Buffalo. We want to try to take the momentum from them," he said. "They already have momentum coming into the game, so we have to go in there and be ready, be relaxed and focus in what we have to do. I'm looking forward to it."