DENVER He took an interception back for a touchdown to salt away a Super Bowl; he did the same thing to turn Peyton Mannings debut in Denver into a rousing success.
Still, Tracy Porter has played cornerback for long enough in this league to know all days dont end as well as those.
The defender who has enjoyed some of the highest highs over his five years in the NFL spent the second half last Sunday sitting on the bench, nursing a bruised knee and a bruised ego. Beaten twice for long touchdowns, Porter knows theres no other choice but to get back out there.
Hell be in the starting lineup Sunday when the Broncos (1-2) will host the Oakland Raiders (1-2).
Even though its your goal, week in and week out, to make big plays, those guys get paid, too, Porter said. They made plays. They capitalized on my mistakes, and thats just what happened. You put the game behind you. Win or lose, you make corrections and move on to the next week.
To recap, it was Porter, who lines up opposite Champ Bailey on the Denver defense, who was in coverage when Andre Johnson slipped behind him and caught a 60-yard touchdown from Matt Schaub in the 31-25 loss to Houston last Sunday. A few minutes later, it was Porter again responsible for the coverage on the 52-yard touchdown connection between Schaub and Kevin Walter.
Oh, there were explanations. The Broncos barely got any pass rush on Schaub on either of the plays. And on the first touchdown, safety Mike Adams wasnt there to help when he should have been.
Porter knows cornerbacks cant make excuses.
It was miscues on the back end; I was out of position on one of them, he said. They capitalized on it, simple as that. I watched the film over and over and saw the mistakes I made. Its my job to eliminate them.
After the second touchdown, Porter spent most of his time sitting on the bench, alone. No injury ever was announced. Only after the game did coach John Fox say Porter had irritated a bruised left knee that hampered his mobility. Porter said there is, indeed, an injury and that hes been taking it slow, hoping to be at full health come Sunday.
Its very frustrating because I know what type of player I am, he said. Otherwise, they wouldnt have brought me here to play opposite of Champ.
In the offseason, the Broncos signed Porter to a one-year, $4-million contract, hoping he could bring the coverage skills, to say nothing of the big-play ability, he displayed during his four seasons in New Orleans.
His highlight year, of course, was 2009. In the NFC championship game, with Brett Favre taking the Vikings into New Orleans territory trying for the winning score, Porter got the interception that sent the game into overtime. Then, in the Super Bowl, Porter short-circuited Mannings comeback, intercepting a pass and returning it 74 yards for a touchdown to give the Saints a 14-point lead late in the fourth quarter.
In his first game in Denver, he was on Mannings side. He sealed Denvers 31-19 win over Pittsburgh with a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown that earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. He also had five pass breakups and eight tackles that day.
In the span of two weeks, so much changed. Such is life as a cornerback.
We think hes an outstanding player, Fox said. Hes played very well for us. If you havent been beat, you havent played. Hes had a great week of preparation, and we expect big things Sunday.