Last year in New York Giants training camp, safety Stevie Brown was kind enough to take some time and go through each of his eight 2012 interceptions in detail. Two days later, Brown tore his ACL in a preseason game, and the piece I was planning never ran. However, I still have the notes from that day, and Brown is back and looks like he's slated to start at safety for the Giants this year. So it bears remembering that he burst onto the scene two years ago with eight interceptions, and if you're having trouble remembering them, Stevie and I can fix that:
No. 1 -- Week 3 at Carolina
The Giants were already up 33-7 in the fourth quarter when Brown intercepted Newton in the end zone and ran the ball back to the 43-yard line. The Giants would go on to win the game 36-7. Brown was still a backup at that point to Kenny Phillips and had just entered the game.
"We had put in a different blitz that week, and I had the option of blitzing based on what the running back did, or I could sit back and hover and watch the quarterback's eyes if the halfback stayed in. And I chose to hover and watch Cam Newton's eyes, and when I saw where he was going, I just went and made a play.
"I think it was my second snap, so I was just trying to feel out everything. I didn't want to go rushing up in there and then maybe have him scramble out and do something, so I just kind of sat back with my eyes on him. It was literally my second snap in, so I was just like, 'Let's play it safe right now.'"
No. 2 -- Week 5 vs. Browns
The Giants trailed 17-10 in the second quarter when Brown intercepted a Brandon Weeden pass at the 14-yard line and ran it all the way back to the Cleveland 40. The Giants tied the game two plays later on an Ahmad Bradshaw touchdown run and also scored the game's next 17 points en route to a 41-27 victory. Brown said he took advantage of a poor pass from Weeden:
"I think we were in a Cover 1 on that one, and it was a sprint-out, and they like to throw it to the tailback out in the flat, and I was just trying to get over the top and I saw that it was overthrown, so I just went and got it. It was kind of a sprint-out, everything was kind of going to that direction, so I was just trying to get out and get over there and see what happened, and the ball got overthrown and I went and made a play."
No. 3 -- Week 7 vs. Redskins
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III threw only five interceptions in his rookie season in 2012. The third of those came in the third quarter of this game with the score tied 13-13. Brown picked off Griffin at the Giants' 24 and ran the ball all the way back to the Redskins' 35. The Giants cashed it in with another Bradshaw touchdown run, and while they would blow that 20-13, they did go on to win the game on Eli Manning's long touchdown pass to Victor Cruz in the final two minutes. Brown gave the credit for this pick to former Giants defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who pressured Griffin up the middle on the play:
"That was all Linval. That was definitely all Linval. Linval came in with the pressure and it made him hold his throw, and then when he went back to throw it, it threw off all the timing and I was the beneficiary of that. Definitely all Linval."
No. 4 -- Week 8 at Dallas
The Giants led 3-0 in the first quarter when Brown intercepted a Tony Romo pass intended for Dez Bryant at the 36-yard line and ran it back to the Dallas 37. The Giants turned that possession into a Lawrence Tynes field goal and a 6-0 lead. Brown thinks Bryant was running the wrong route on the play, and remembers Bryant and Romo talking on the sideline after it was over:
"It looked like he was running a post and I saw the ball in the air, so I just went and got that one. I was definitely in the post. He was running the post, apparently he was supposed to be running a dig, so I remember they were talking about that one after. But he ran a post and I just broke out of the post and made a play on the ball.
I'm reading the quarterback and I've got to read the receivers and see what they're doing. One of the toughest plays to break on is the dig, so before I come directly downhill I have to see where my receivers are so I can break accordingly with them. And I saw he was coming in on the post and I saw the ball in the air at the same time and I went for the ball."
No. 5 -- Week 8 at Dallas
The Cowboys had wiped out a 23-0 Giants lead and trailed 29-24 with a little over a minute left in the game. They were on the Giants' 19-yard line, and on fourth-and-1, Brown intercepted a Romo pass at the 17 to hold off the Dallas comeback. The Cowboys did get the ball back and nearly scored to win the game, but Bryant was ruled out of bounds in the end zone when replay showed part of his hand had come down out of bounds on an apparent touchdown catch. Brown's interception was once again the result of pressure from his buddy on the defensive line:
"That was another one where I think Linval helped as well. He got pressure on Romo. He's definitely an underrated guy. Linval's a great player. So he got pressure and he flushed him out of the pocket, and I don't know if he was trying to throw it up for [Jason] Witten to get or if he was just trying to throw it up to get out of bounds, but it didn't quite get out of bounds far enough, so I was able to go up and get it."
No. 6 -- Week 14 vs. Saints
The Giants led 21-13 coming out of halftime, and Saints quarterback Drew Brees tried to go deep to Jimmy Graham on the first play of the second half. Antrel Rolle had Graham covered and got a hand on the ball. Brown caught it in the air and ran it back to the 20. Four plays later, David Wilson ran the ball in for a touchdown and a 28-13 lead. When you get eight interceptions in a year, some of them are just from being in the right place at the right time. Brown knows his 2012 season came with plenty of that:
"That was all Antrel. Antrel had man-to-man coverage on Jimmy Graham, and he made a great play. Jimmy Graham went up to catch it, Trel came up and punched it out of his hands, so it went up in the air and it was just another one of those plays where I was the beneficiary of it.
That's one thing I joke around with Eli [Manning] about all the time in practice, like, 'Eli, if you ever overthrow the ball or if it ever gets tipped, it will be mine.' He just has to know, he's got to put the ball on the money every single time or it's going to be my pick. I just like to tell him that I'm always going to be in the vicinity every time, so if it's not right to the receiver at the perfect place, it's going to be mine."
No. 7 -- Week 14 vs. Saints
The Giants led 42-27 in the fourth quarter when Brown picked off another Brees-to-Graham effort and ran it back 70 yards to the Saints' 22-yard line. That led to a Lawrence Tynes field goal as the Giants were on their way to an easy 52-27 win:
"I think we were in Cover 2 on that one, and as I was just backpedaling reading my 2-1 read like normal. [Michael] Boley had carried Graham maybe 10-15 yards down the field and then he stopped and Graham kept going and I saw Brees look at him and I took off, because I knew, you got your big tight end right there up the seam closer to the red zone, I knew that's where he was trying to go, so I just gambled and it paid off."
No. 8 -- Week 17 vs. Eagles
The Giants began the day still alive in the playoff hunt and would crush the Eagles 42-7 in the final game of the Andy Reid era while results elsewhere in the league eliminated them from postseason contention. They came out fired up, though, and Brown picked off Michael Vick on the Eagles' opening drive. Another long (48-yard) return got the ball to the Philadelphia 26, and Manning cashed in four plays later with a short touchdown pass to Rueben Randle:
"I think he was trying to throw to [Brent] Celek, and I know Kenny [Phillips] was in coverage on him, and it was real windy that game. So I don't know if the wind caught it or what, but it kind of got thrown a little bit behind Celek and I just dove out and made a play on it.
"It's definitely a good season. I set goals every single year. I set five in my head, and wrote down five, so to be able to get eight was amazing."