'There's no doubt': Lions' Darius Slay believes he's still playing at an All-Pro level
Chicago — Like most opponents this season, the Chicago Bears barely looked the direction of Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay. But when they did take their shots, Slay conceded a pair of big plays, leading to one of the Bears' three touchdowns in a 20-13 victory over the Lions.
On the opening possession of the second half, Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky took a deep shot to star receiver Allen Robinson, who made a diving 33-yard grab despite tight coverage by Slay.
"He's a very, very talented receiver," Slay said after the game. "And the catch he made was really outstanding. It wasn't like he was wide open. No, he made a great diving catch, away from me and made the play. That was a great play by him. I was in the greatest position I could possible be. The only thing I could've done better is knock it down, but I didn't. He dove for it, caught it. Sweet pass. I give them a lot of credit for that."
Three plays later, Trubisky tried Robinson against Slay a second time. On this throw, the ball was long but as it flew over the receiver's head and landed on the ground, the official nearest to the action threw a flag for defensive pass interference.
"That (stuff) was weak as (expletive)," Slay said. "(The official) told me when I talked to him, (it was) because I didn't play the ball. The ball was thrown over my head. I'm not going to play a ball that's thrown over my head. I said, 'I'm just playing through his hands.'"
The infraction gave the Bears a first-and-goal at the 9 and they put it into the end zone on the next play.
Slay has played in seven of Detroit's nine games this season, missing two because of a hamstring injury. Against the Los Angeles Chargers earlier this season, he struggled to keep up with Pro Bowl receiver Keenan Allen, although Slay got the last laugh by picking off a pass intended for Allen in the end zone to seal a victory for the Lions.
Last month against the Minnesota Vikings, Slay struggled again, this time while covering Stefon Diggs, at least until the hamstring injury sidelined the cornerback for the second half.
Still, Slay believes he's continuing to play at an elite level for the year.
"I've been playing Pro Bowl-level, All-Pro level," Slay said. "Easily. It's not even close. There's no doubt. How many games has this been? Ten? I've probably got a total of 20 targets. I mean, it's hard to make a play in 20 plays. It's tough."
According to Pro Football Focus, Slay had been targeted 26 times heading into Sunday, with the Bears throwing his way three more times. With Robinson's 33-yard catch, he's given up 16 receptions for 249 yards and a touchdown. Those are good numbers, comparable to his previous two Pro Bowl campaigns.
What has been lacking has been plays on the ball. Slay has just three breakups and the one interception this season, compared to 43 pass defenses and 11 picks the previous two seasons combined.
"I think I've been playing extremely well," he said. "Only thing I could do better is find a way to turn the ball over for the team, so we can get going."