D-Gaps: Picks by Ed Reed, DeAngelo Hall

Filling you in on what you may have missed on the "other" side of the ball this week

Two years ago, NFL teams combined for just 1.82 interceptions per game, the lowest total since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger by a wide margin. Through the first seven weeks of the 2010 season, that number has climbed to 2.06 picks per game, an increase of nearly one-quarter of an interception per game in less than two full seasons. To celebrate the numbers that are sure to bring a smile to the face of every defensive coordinator, let’s take a look at a trio of history-making performances from this past Sunday that show you can’t spell “win” without I-N-T.

Hall ties NFL mark vs Bears

DeAngelo HallHallWashington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall entered the week tied for 33rd in the league with just one interception. Now, the rest of the NFL is staring up at Hall after he tied a long-standing record with four interceptions Sunday against the Bears.

Hall is the first player to register four picks in a game since the Denver Broncos’ Deltha O’Neal in 2001 and 19th to do it in league history. Legendary Redskins Hall-of-Famer Sammy Baugh was the first player to intercept four passes, doing it in a 42-20 win vs the Detroit Lions on November 14, 1943 (a game in which he also threw four TD passes).

All four of Hall’s interceptions came after halftime, even more impressive when you consider that only eight teams have more than four picks in the second half this season. Hall returned his second interception 92 yards for a score, making him the first player to intercept four passes and return one for a touchdown since 1978, when Green Bay Packers cornerback Willie Buchanon did it against the Chargers.

Bowens historically good vs Saints

Hall wasn’t the only player to tie an oft-equaled NFL record on Sunday, as Cleveland Browns linebacker David Bowens became the 26th player in NFL history to return two interceptions for scores in the same game. Bowens wasn’t exactly the most likely candidate to take back a pair of picks -- the 12-year veteran entered Sunday with only two interceptions in 154 career games.

Bowens' feat is even more unusual when you consider that he is a former defensive end now playing outside linebacker in the Browns 3-4 defense. He is the third linebacker in the Super Bowl era with two interceptions returned for touchdowns in a game, and the second one in the past calendar year to do it. Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson also had two pick-sixes against the Broncos January 3 in the final week of the regular season.

Many happy returns for Reed

Ed ReedReedThe third player with multiple picks last week was Ravens safety Ed Reed, appearing in his first game this season after offseason hip surgery. Reed showed little rust as he registered his ninth career multi-pick game, the most among active players.

Since the merger in 1970, only two players have more games with at least two interceptions than Reed: Paul Krause, the NFL’s career leader in interceptions, and Ronnie Lott, widely considered one of the best safeties to ever play on Sundays. As Reed continues to add to his already impressive credentials, it appears more and more likely that he’ll end up with a bust alongside both of them in Canton.