On a night where he was frequently matched up against All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, Bashaud Breeland has his moments -- including an interception -- but it was a performance he wants to improve on moving forward.
In advance of the Washington Redskins' regular season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, defensive coordinator Joe Barry made it clear that it wouldn't be just Josh Norman defending All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown.
With Norman locking down one side of the field, if Brown went to the other side of the field, Bashaud Breeland would be there in coverage.
While Brown did not record a catch on his two targets against Norman, he was able to get the better end of Breeland eight times including a pair of impressive touchdown catches despite relatively good coverage from the young Redskins cornerback.
On Brown's first touchdown reception of the night, a second quarter 26-yard score on 4th-and-1, Breeland was stride for stride with Brown. But the Central Michigan product was just able to beat Breeland deep.
Then later in the game on a 2nd-and-19 reception for Brown – one that would set up a DeAngelo Williams touchdown run – Breeland remained tight in his coverage. Brown and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger were just perfectly in-sync.
"I could've played high, they were playing a guessing game and either I'll make the play…it was a freaky night," Breeland said. "Things were going tit for tat. I can't hang my head over it. All I can do is do better. ...Those were just plays that I missed. I'm one of the best DBs in this league, so that was just my play that I missed. There's nothing more I can say about that play."
While some wondered why the Redskins wouldn't have Norman travel with Brown regardless of where he was lined up, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden had and will continue to have confidence in Breeland.
"I think Breeland has done such a good job in training camp and Breeland is one of our corners. He's a good corner and he got beat by a great player today and some great passes that I don't know what corner can defend," Gruden said. "I'm not going to lose faith in Breeland, but there could be merit to that later on down the road. I love our two corners, I like all four of our corners, and they just made some great throws and great catches."
The Steelers' game plan steered away from Brown matching up with Norman, and when they did throw his way he made plays.
But when it came down to execution, the Steelers did so "flawlessly."
"Can't take anything away from that," Norman said. "Got to respect them, tip our hats off to them, go back in and get ready for next week: the Dallas Cowboys."
While Breeland wasn't able to be consistent in his play against, the Redskins understand that he'll far more better days than not in the future.
"He holds himself to a higher standard," veteran safety DeAngelo Hall said. "I had to tell him on the sideline: 'It's not like you're going against a practice squad guy. You're going against one of the best guys in the league. Take your bumps and bruises. Learn from it and you get better from it.' You critique that film like your life depended on it. You're going to get beat up some times by some elite guys and you learn from it and you grow and get better."
Breeland gets his chance for redemption this Sunday against a Dallas Cowboys offense he's had quite a bit of success against in the past.
"I'm just ready for Dallas," Breeland said. "That's all I can say."