Football Team

Moreland's INT a turning point in Washington's Week 1 win

Football Team

Landon Collins tried to warn us.

In May, the Washington safety was asked which defensive player was primed for a big season in 2020. Collins, without hesitation, said rising second-year cornerback Jimmy Moreland.

A seventh-round draft choice of Washington in 2019, Moreland made a name for himself during training camp last year by showing off his knack for finding the football. However, Moreland's camp success didn't instantly translate to the field, as the James Madison product failed to notch an interception during his rookie campaign.

Moreland was thrusted into the starting lineup for Washington's Week 1 contest as cornerback Kendall Fuller was unable to play versus Philadelphia. Suddenly, the second-year corner was given an opportunity to make an impact.

Philadelphia began the second half with a 10-point lead over Washington. After the teams traded punts to begin the third quarter, the Eagles had the ball once again and were looking to extend their lead back to three possessions.

With the Eagles creeping towards Washington territory, quarterback Carson Wentz thought he had an open receiver in John Hightower along the left sideline. 

Then, Moreland struck. 

Moreland jumped in front of Hightower and pulled in his first career interception. The 25-year-old nearly returned it all the way back for a Washington touchdown, but was tackled by Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson at Philadelphia's 20-yard line.

"I thought he wasn’t going to throw it, but he threw it," Moreland said postgame. "My attention was getting my eyes back to make a good play. I’m a jumper, so I went ahead and did that. I made a play on the ball. I couldn’t get to the end zone, but next time I know I’ll do that."

 

All of a sudden, a Washington offense that had been struggling for much of the first half was gifted a red zone opportunity. The momentum was swinging in the home team's direction.

The Burgundy and Gold would turn Moreland's interception into a scoring drive, capped with a one-yard touchdown run by Peyton Barber. After trailing by 17 the quarter prior, Washington was down just a field goal. It was a ballgame again.

Washington's defense fed off the energy. For the rest of the evening, Wentz and the Eagles offense could never get comfortable. Philadelphia would not score for the rest of the game, as Washington would finish with 27 unanswered points for a commanding 10-point victory over the Eagles.

Moreland's interception wasn't the sole reason Washington was victorious on Sunday, but it certainly played a major role in changing the course of the game.

"It was a big play in my eyes. It helped my team to go on and score 17 points," Moreland said. "It was a huge weight off of my shoulders getting my first interception and I helped my team, so I was really happy about that.”

Don't expect Moreland's performance in Week 1 to be a one-game wonder, either. The cornerback said postgame he feels a lot more comfortable in Year 2 and is excited for what he'll contribute to the defense this season.

"Most definitely. Last year I played more inside and this year I’m getting my size up," Moreland said. "These plays are going to happen. I’m going to make them happen, and everybody’s behind you."