This needs to be said up front – Redskins rookie Chris Horton had a grand total of four interceptions during his entire college career. That’s right, in 41 career games at UCLA, Horton picked off four passes.
So naturally, Horton, who we lovingly refer to as “The Predator,” has three interceptions in his first four NFL games. This past weekend, with the Washington Redskins in an intense battle with their hated rival, the Dallas Cowboys, it was Horton making the game-changing play with time running out in the third quarter. In a battle of a Pro Bowl quarterback and an unheralded seventh-round rookie, “The Predator” struck again.
“We had been running that defense all day,” Horton said. “You know, just trying to get that guy to throw the ball in that spot. I just kind of baited it up. I knew where I was supposed to be, got myself into position and read the receiver’s eyes. He threw it, and I picked it.”
He, of course, would be Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo, the gun slinging media darling who attempted a short pass to wide out Miles Austin down the right sideline. Horton hung back just long enough to lull Romo into a false sense of security and then sprinted to the ball before Austin even knew what hit him. The ‘Skins went into the final quarter with a 23-17 lead and never looked back.
“That’s a really good team we just beat over there,” Horton said. “There’s some things that we’ve got to go back and correct because we do play these guys again.”
Back to the interceptions. Seriously, how does a guy with four picks in college suddenly become a ballhawk seemingly overnight?
“I’m feeling very comfortable,” Horton said. “I don’t know what it is. I tell my teammates all the time that my hands have gotten a lot better since I got to the NFL. I’m catching a lot of balls that in college …”
Can we get you to work with Fred Smoot and Carlos Rogers?
(Laughs). “When the ball comes to those guys, they’ll make their plays,” he said. “I think I’m just making plays right now and I’m doing whatever it takes to help my team win.”
After the Saints game I told you that you should be starting, but you disagreed. Fast forward to this week and the Redskins actually named you a starter against the Cowboys. That must mean you’re doing something right.
“I am, but … in the second half I got pulled,” Horton said. “I got pulled from the game, but I know my coaches believe in me. I just got to continue to get better every week.”
When asked why he was pulled, Horton said he was responsible for the Cowboys’ first two touchdowns. Horton said he was out of position on the touchdown catches by tight end Jason Witten and wide receiver Terrell Owens, prompting the coaches to rotate Horton and safety Reed Doughty throughout the rest of the game. But Horton wasn’t worried about that. He was simply pleased that the ‘Skins got the win.
The team has a 24-hour rule, so how are you going to enjoy this win?
“I’m going to go home, relax, you know, tomorrow I’ll forget about it and go back to practice,” Horton said. “I’m excited. It’s a win, and wins are hard to come across in the NFL, so just to get that win is exciting.”
Is this a statement win?
“It is,” he said. “No one gave us a chance, but we believed in ourselves. That’s all that really matters. When we step on the field between those white lines, we’re going to play some physical football.”
(photos by Brian Murphy)