good read on the bond
Monday, December 16, 1996
Ty Law got the best of Michael Irvin
By JIM DONALDSON / Providence Journal-Bulletin (Dec. 16, 1996)
IRVING, Tex. (KRT) - To Ty Law, it was an act of faith.
To Bill Parcells, it was simply common sense for him to have Law cover Michael Irvin, 1-on-1, wherever the Cowboys' all-pro wide receiver went. "Michael is their best receiver," Parcells said. "Ty is our best corner."
It was the best against the best and, when it was over, you'd have to say that Law got the best of Irvin.
Even though Irvin led the Cowboys with 6 catches for 76 yards, he didn't make any big plays.
Law made two huge plays, and a Stetson-full of other good ones.
Early in the first quarter, he intercepted a pass from Troy Aikman intended for Irvin at the Dallas 37, setting up a field goal.
Then, with the Cowboys leading 12-6 early in the fourth quarter and facing a 3rd-and-1 at the Patriots' 7, Law came from out of nowhere to pick off a pass in the end zone intended for tight end Johnny Mitchell.
"Coach Parcells put his faith in me that I could go 1-on-1 with Michael Irvin the whole game," Law said.
"Not too many coaches would have done that. I was thankful he believed in me. I just tried to go out and get the job done."
Not too many corners could have done the job Law did on Irvin.
Not only did he make two interceptions, but he also broke up three other passes, and made seven tackles.
It was an opportunity for Law. An opportunity to look very good. Or very bad.
Irvin, despite his off-field problems, can cause even more problems to opposing defensive backs.
He sat out the first five games this season on a drug suspension, but still leads the Cowboys with 63 receptions for 965 yards.
Irvin caught a career-high 111 passes last season for 1,603 yards - the fifth year in a row he's had at least 78 receptions and gained more than 1,200 yards.
"I was looking forward to the opportunity to play a guy like that," Law said. "There is no better test. He's big, he's aggressive, he's very physical.
"I was looking forward to the challenge. Any cornerback would love the opportunity to see who's the better man."
Law, who last week against the Jets returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown, was at his best on Sunday.
"I knew at the beginning of the week (Irvin) was going to be my assignment," Law said. "Vincent Brisby and Ray Lucas did a great job imitating Michael Irvin all week in practice. They helped me out a lot."
Lucas, a former quarterback at Rutgers who was activated last week off the practice squad, said he tried to be as physical as possible in practice while running Irvin's favorite routes.
"I tried to use my strength," said Lucas, a 6-2, 201-pounder. "I did a lot of pushing and tugging, because that's part of Michael's game."
It's also the way Law likes to play the game.
"There was a lot of pushing out there," said Law, "and some face mask-grabbing. That's how Michael is - he tries to intimidate people.
"But that's okay. That's my style, too."
Law played Irvin perfectly on his first interception.
When Irvin broke to the sideline, Law came up quickly and picked off the pass.
"I read the route well," Law said. "I just stepped in front of him and came up with the play."
Irvin was out of the game when Law made his clutch, fourth-quarter interception.
"Daryl Johnston came out of the backfield, into the flat, and I was all over him," Law said. "When I saw Troy look to the tight end (Mitchell), I broke to the end zone as fast as I could and, luckily, got there just in time.
"It couldn't have come at a better time, because it looked like Dallas was going to come away with at least three points."
Instead, the Cowboys came up empty.
Unfortunately, the usually-potent New England offense wasn't producing much in the way of points.
"It's very frustrating," Law said, "because we could have gone into our final game with a (playoff) bye already locked up.
"We wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to beat the world champions, but we came up short.
"But we can learn from this game. We know now that we can play with these guys."
(c) 1996, Providence Journal-Bulletin. Distributed by Knight-Ridder/Tribune Information Services.