Keenan Lewis shuts down DeSean Jackson, but departed with injury


New Orleans Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis (28) tackles Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant (81) during the first half 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis is one of the most underrated players in the game, and he has been a big breakout star for the Saints this season. Even though Cameron Jordan is an excellent player, I don’t think there’s a more important player on the Saints defense than Lewis, especially following the season-ending injury to veteran CB Jabari Greer. Not only has Lewis become a true No. 1 corner this year, but the Saints simply don’t have another CB anywhere near his class; it showed last night.

I highlighted Lewis vs. Jackson as one of the biggest matchups to watch, and Lewis definitely won this matchup. Jackson didn’t even have a single catch in the first quarter, and that is “shutting down” at its finest. While Jackson is a great receiver who had a terrific 2013 season, he just couldn’t get anything going against Lewis, who is extremely physical and one of the league’s best press corners. As expected, Jackson struggled with Lewis’s physicality and was unable to get off of the press.

But things changed in the third quarter, as the Saints were dealt a huge blow when Lewis was taken off the field with a possible concussion. He never returned to the game, and it was Corey White’s job to try and stop one of the game’s best weapons at receiver. He failed, as Jackson caught three passes for 53 yards, including a 40-yard bomb, and he also drew a long pass intereference.

In a 26-24 game, Lewis’s first half of shutdown football against Jackson made a big difference, and his ability to play receivers on an island and shut down elite wideouts (he neutralized Dez Bryant earlier this year) has a huge effect on the rest of the defense. It gives Rob Ryan more piece of mind and allows him to have more freedom with other players, which is especially important for an aggressive DC.

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