In 82 NFL games before Monday night, Chicago Bears safety Ryan Mundy had recorded a grand total of two interceptions. So he was as surprised as anyone when New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith hit him between the numbers on the second play of the contest. Mundy returned the interception 45 yards for a touchdown, outracing speedy Jets tailback Chris Johnson along the way, and the Bears never trailed in a 27-19 victory.
Mundy, who suffered a stinger to his shoulder in the third quarter, provided some extended thoughts on the big play to ESPN's Kevin Seifert and others in the Bears' locker room:
We knew a screen play was a possibility because, like any team, they definitely have a screen selection. We didn't really expect it to come that early in the game, but when you have players like Chris Johnson and their other running backs, who are good catchers of the ball out of the backfield, you try to get them the ball in different ways.
You could tell they were setting up the screen [when Smith pumped in the other direction]. That's the design of those plays. We're playing a zone coverage, so my job is to play underneath coverage to the left, and that's where I stayed.
I don't think [Johnson] was expecting the ball. I'm not sure, but I just made my way over because I was seeing the play develop. Typically in those situations, when they see me or someone right there, they throw it into the ground. I don't know if [Smith] saw me, but he threw it.
I saw the football coming right to my face. You've got to make sure you catch it and look it in. I was in the right place, right time.
I saw Geno, and I knew he wasn't going to catch me. But honestly, I wasn't aware of who the running back was that was in the game. Anytime you have the ball on a defensive turnover, what they tell you is that speed is behind you. You've got to secure the ball. I know [Johnson] is fast.
He's definitely fast. But when the ball gets in your hands, I mean, you know. I wouldn't call what I have "scary speed," but it's like, the end zone is right there, so let me get there. I was like, please let met just run as fast as I can and make it happen. That was my first career touchdown, so that was really cool.
I had a 91-yarder in the first game last year against Dallas, all the way to 1-yard line [when playing for the New York Giants]. Who caught me? I think it was DeMarco Murray. It was kind of frustrating, because even then, when I got it to the 1, we still didn't score a touchdown. After three plays, we had to kick a field goal. So the next time I got the ball in that position, I said, "Let me score."
Turnovers are a mindset. We practice it. We work it hard. We drill it into every practice that we're going to get turnovers. Every meeting we have, we smack that football and say, "Take that ball." It's just a mindset.
It was a big play, no doubt. Anytime you come into a hostile environment, you try to do your best to quiet the crowd and get the crowd out of it. When you force turnovers and get defensive touchdowns, if you force turnovers on special teams, score touchdowns on special teams, that definitely helps.
It wasn't that complicated. I was just playing underneath coverage, and really it seemed like he just threw it right to me. So you just got to catch it and run, and that's what I did.