Our weekly Q&A is with New York Jets safety Antonio Allen. He's a second-year player who made his first career interception last week and returned it for a touchdown, the biggest play in the upset of the New England Patriots:
Did your eyes get wide when you saw Tom Brady's pass coming at you?
Allen: I don't think I had time to look at the quarterback. I think the ball was already there. As soon as I turned, it was already in my hand. [I'm like], "Appreciate it." It was a good spark for the team and we came out victorious.
What kind of reaction have you received from friends and former teammates?
Allen: A lot of people made me feel good, saying it's the greatest play they've ever seen and what a good job I did on Rob [Gronkowski]. There were a lot of things to keep me uplifted. Old high-school coaches have been calling me, former teammates. I mean, I've been getting calls from everybody. After the game, I had 40 texts. It was crazy. It was the most I've ever had.
I think fans want to know: What's it like lining up opposite Gronkowski, play after play? He's huge -- 6-foot-6, 265 pounds -- and dangerous.
Allen: (Laughs) I remember, the whole second half we were just in single-high coverage or "zero" [no safety help]. That whole second half, it was just crazy. But, I mean, lining up against a guy like that, you have to respect him because he's done a lot in this league. You have to be fearless, no mercy, just, "I'm about to get into him." He had to get me some other way because I was about to put my hands on him and secure my work.
Did he say anything to you during the game?
Allen: We didn't say one thing to each other the whole game. I was so focused in, I wasn't trying to trash talk.
You were cut twice last season by the Jets. How much did that sting?
Allen: At first, I was so frustrated: "What am I doing wrong?" I was taking the blame for everything. That's how it works sometimes. After a while, my whole mindset was, "Stay with it, stay strong, I'm going to have my chance." I was always looking at the roster, seeing, "Oh, they released this player, they released that player." They let [LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell] go. I'm like, "They're really trying to give me a shot. I'm going to take it and run with it."
You were drafted in the seventh round in 2012, the 242nd player overall. Was that a humbling experience?
Allen: Throughout that whole process, man ... I felt like I should've went higher. I was so hurt. I remember just crying -- literally. I remember thinking, "Man, I'm not going to get drafted." So many thoughts were running through my head, like, "What am I going to do?" It was hard, but I'm here now and making the best of my situation.