A little more than three weeks ago, Briean Boddy-Calhoun was caught up in the numbers game and cut loose by the Jacksonville Jaguars. One day later, he was a Cleveland Brown.
It took three weeks for Boddy-Calhoun, an undrafted rookie from Minnesota, to crack the rotation after two weeks on the inactive list but he wasted little time to get Browns fans to recognize him. He delivered a pick-six in Sunday's second quarter against the Dolphins to become the first player in Browns history to do so in his first NFL game.
"It feels good," Boddy-Calhoun said Monday. "Whenever you're in the record books, it always feels good. but there's 11 guys out there. I wouldn't have gotten that play if it wasn't for the rush. Rush and cover work together so that's a team effort."
Here's how it unfolded.
Setting the scene: The Dolphins, holding onto a 7-3 lead, face a third-and-3 from their own 21-yard line with 7:01 to play in the second quarter. Almost immediately after the Dolphins break from their huddle, three receivers go off to the left of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. That leaves Boddy-Calhoun on the other side of the field without a receiver directly in front of him, but his eyes don't stop moving.
"Whenever your guy leaves your zone, you always want to scan the field, look across the field and see if anything else is coming," Boddy-Calhoun said.
Before the snap, Cleveland's defense never stops moving. At one point, Boddy-Calhoun runs up to the line of scrimmage, taps left end Tyrone Holmes on the side, and Holmes slides one spot to his right. Gabe Wright, who is standing behind Xavier Cooper in the above photo, darts back and forth before settling into his spot across from the left guard. When the ball is snapped, none of the linemen have their hand in the dirt.
The ball is snapped and the Cleveland defense has its bases covered, allowing little to no separation on Tannehill's targets. Boddy-Calhoun has his eyes on tight end Dion Sims, who breaks off the right side of the offensive line and sprints out to the 23-yard line but eventually cuts to his left. The receiver cutting toward the middle from the top of the photo is disrupted by Browns linebacker Demario Davis, who exercises his right to disrupt the receiver within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage.
"The quarterback is looking wide but he's not going to see you backside," Boddy-Calhoun said. "That's how you can seal a dig or an under route."
Here's why Tannehill had to rush his throw. The Browns rush four and get fantastic effort from Gabe Wright (middle) and Holmes from the right. Right tackle Ja'Wuan James, who was later benched in the game, is on the wrong side of Holmes as he barrels toward Tannehill, who can't step up much in the pocket because Wright is closing on him, too.
Boddy-Calhoun might not have an easier interception than this during the rest of his NFL career. Tannehill's throw is completely airmailed, roughly 5 yards over the head of Kenny Stills, who was running a slant across the middle. Boddy-Calhoun gets the ball at the 27-yard line and already has his eyes on the end zone.
"When you get the ball in your hands, you've got to find the box," Boddy-Calhoun said.
Boddy-Calhoun might have had two routes to the end zone. If he stuck to the left and got a couple of blocks, he probably scores. He opted for a little bit of a longer route but received the same payoff. He sprints toward the middle of the field, fakes left and mounts his pursuit toward the right sideline.
"Linemen are big slow guys, they're not good at changing directions so when I caught it, I wanted to act like I committed (to the left) so I went 1-2, planted, cut across the field and that kind of froze the linemen," Boddy-Calhoun said. "It put me one on one with the linemen backside and it was a race from here to the pylon. I knew I was going to outrun them."
And he did.