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After a trip home, Brown comes back big

Category: UNSPECIFIED
Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Publish Date: Monday, October 15, 2007
Summary: Philadelphia Eagles star Sheldon Brown takes time to enjoy the game off the field in his RV.

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By Ashley Fox

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Oct. 15, 2007 (McClatchy-Tribune Regional News delivered by Newstex) --

Sheldon Brown was not in a good place. He needed an escape, a reminder that life was continuing even though the Eagles were 1-3.

So during the Birds' bye week, Brown exited the insular world of the NFL and went, as he put it yesterday, "back to my roots." He and his family went to South Carolina, where Brown attended high school and college, and where he plans on settling once his football days are over.

Perspective is what he found. Perspective and peace.

And yesterday, Brown had a monstrous game against the New York Jets, intercepting one Chad Pennington pass and breaking up another in the end zone that could have been disastrous. Brown's hands were all over the Eagles' 16-9 win over the Jets, and they are all over an Eagles defense that has given up just six touchdowns in five games despite missing two Pro Bowl-caliber starters in the secondary.

With Brian Dawkins and Lito Sheppard out again, the Eagles needed Brown to have a big day at Giants Stadium. He did.

Maybe it was seeing his old high school coach, or speaking to the fresh faces who play on Friday nights. Maybe it was tailgating outside his new RV before South Carolina beat up on Kentucky on national television Oct. 4.

Whatever happened in South Carolina helped.

"You need that when you're in the dump," Brown said. "We lost some games I feel we definitely should've won. How can you not be [down]? . . . I just got remotivated, so to speak."

With Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles to defend, Brown needed to be in the right mind-frame. Cotchery entered the game ranked eighth in the league with 414 receiving yards this year; Coles had 300.

Brown came close to intercepting a Pennington pass intended for Coles late in the second quarter. In the third, he got his hands on the ball. With the Jets trailing by 13-6 and facing third and 3 from midfield, Brown was in single coverage on the left side against Brad Smith, who is four inches taller.

Brown took a step back and waited to see which way Smith, a converted quarterback, would break. Inside would mean a slant, outside a fade, which meant a jump ball would determine the winner.

It was a fade, and Brown played it perfectly, stepping in front of Smith for the interception, the 12th of his career and the 10th that resulted in points. David Akers' 25-yard field goal put the Eagles ahead by 10 points with 1 minute, 44 seconds left in the quarter.

Bigger still was the play Brown made in the fourth quarter. The Jets needed a touchdown to tie the game but were facing fourth and 1 from the Eagles' 4-yard line. Eric Mangini called for a fade to Coles.

"We had him isolated," Mangini said.

"The defensive back made a nice play, getting his hand in there late in the [receiver's] pocket."

Brown batted the ball away. Game over.

"I love when they throw at me, because it gives me an opportunity and a chance to make plays," Brown said. "I hate it when I go into a football game and I don't come out with anything. That's not how I want to play."

Takeo Spikes has been impressed by Brown's play on the field and his approach to football off it. His quiet demeanor, Spikes said, is deceptive.

"Sheldon is a guy who has a very big chip on his shoulder, from what I take from it," Spikes said. "He has an attitude when he steps on the field: 'I'm the best corner playing out here in this arena today.' . . . His swagger, the way he approaches the game, the way that he prepares, that's when you see plays like that happen."

"I could care less about my success," Brown said. "I just want everybody in here to be successful. . . . A win is a win. I don't care if you win by one."

Contact staff writer Ashley Fox at 215-854-5064 or afox@phillynews.com.

Newstex ID: KRTB-0160-20231812


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