In the fourth quarter of Washington's Week 15 game against Seattle, Daron Payne did something no Washington Football Team defensive tackle has done since 2008: haul in an interception.
Leading 20-9, Seattle was threatening to build on its lead when a first down pass from Russell Wilson was batted into the air by Montez Sweat. Payne was in the right place at the right time and caught the batted pass for his first career interception.
Speaking with NBC Sports Washington's Postgame Live crew following the game, Payne explained what was going through his head when he saw Sweat tip Wilson's pass in the air.
"I was just rushing the quarterback, trying to retrace the ball," Payne said. "I [saw] Sweat get his hands up and I [saw] it in the air and had to go get it."
Batting passes in the air is something Washington's defensive front has specifically worked on in practice, and it's translated to two interceptions of that nature over the past three weeks. Linebacker Jon Bostic picked off Ben Roethlisberger on a batted pass by Sweat two weeks prior, an interception that clinched an upset victory for the Burgundy and Gold over the Steelers in Week 13.
"Our coach, he always says batted passes cause interceptions," Payne said. "Once you get your hands up, we're always looking for a turnover."
On the ensuing drive following Payne's interception, Washington would score its first touchdown of the day on a six-yard pass from Dwayne Haskins to JD McKissic.
After another defensive stop by the Washington defense, the home side had a chance to take the lead in the final minutes. But once Washington neared the red zone, Seattle's defense buckled down and forced a turnover on downs, ending any hope for a come-from-behind victory.
Despite the loss, Sunday was another solid performance from Payne, who has quietly had a Pro Bowl-caliber season along Washington's loaded defensive front.