How often are interceptions — the defensive kind — a topic of discussion in the NFL? Oh, every once in a while a DB will go wild, pick off three or four passes in a game, and you’ll think: How’d that happen? Did the Hot Tub Time Machine transport DeAngelo Hall back to 1962? Anything less than that, though, and . . .
So allow me to point out that, eight games into the season, Browns free safety Tashaun Gipson has six INTs. And while you’re stifling a yawn, let me also point out that six is halfway to 12, and nobody has had that many since Lester Hayes had 13 for the Super Bowl-winning Raiders in 1980. In fact, since ’81, when Everson Walls had 11 as an undrafted Cowboys rookie, nobody has had more than 10.
Here are the seven sneak thieves who’ve reached that total in the last two decades:
DBS WITH THE MOST INTERCEPTIONS IN A SEASON (LAST 20 YEARS)
|Year||Defensive back, Team||Int||Yds||TD|
|2007||Antonio Cromartie, Chargers||10||144||1|
|2006||Champ Bailey, Broncos||10||162||1|
|2006||Asante Samuel, Patriots||10||120||0|
|2005||Ty Law, Jets||10||195||1|
|2005||Deltha O’Neal, Bengals||10||103||0|
|2001||Ronde Barber, Bucs||10||86||1|
|2001||Anthony Henry, Browns||10||177||1|
For those of you scoring at home, there are 31 Pro Bowls in that group – Bailey 12, Law and Barber 5, Samuel 4, Cromartie 3 and O’Neal 2. Three of them, moreover, had more than 50 career picks (Law 53, Bailey 52, Samuel 51) and another had 47 (Barber). That puts them in the Top 20 since 1978, the year the league started legislating against defense. So if Gipson reaches double digits, he’ll be in good company.
Hey, just trying to work up some enthusiasm for The Other Side of the Ball. It ain’t easy these days. After all, Night Train Lane’s record of 14 interceptions in a season has stood since 1952, when they played only 12 games, and hasn’t been seriously challenged in ages. Look at it this way: Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger have thrown a combined six picks this year. That’s how many Gipson has. Impressed yet?