EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—As he sprinted towards the end zone to finish the biggest play of his young NFL career, Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon's moment of glory was momentarily interrupted by a bit of humility.
Running towards what would ultimately be a 97-yard interception return for a touchdown, a crucial play in a 24-3 victory over the Giants, Witherspoon watched not one but two teammates, cornerback Riq Woolen and safety Julian Love, pass him as they looked to clear the way for Witherspoon's score.
"I'm really mad at Riq and J-Love because they made me look slow," Witherspoon said with a big grin. "They kind of walked me down, made me look slow, but shout out to them for sure. That was an incredible moment for me, first career pick was a pick six on Monday Night Football. It doesn't get any better."
On their way to a third-straight win, the Seahawks were dominant on defense, limiting the Giants to a single field goal, only 248 yards of total offense and an average gain of just 3.4 yards per play. The Seahawks had three takeaways—interceptions by Witherspoon and Quandre Diggs, and a sack/forced fumble by Mario Edwards that was recovered by Jordyn Brooks to set up a touchdown—and the pass rush dominated, recording 11 sacks to tie a franchise record, with four different players, Brooks, Witherspoon, Uchenna Nwosu and Bobby Wagner, recording two sacks apiece.
It was, in every way, a team effort that led to Seattle's best defensive performance of the season, with so many players shining, from the aforementioned turnovers and sacks to Wagner's 17 tackles and 2.0 sacks, to the fourth-down stop on the Giants' first drive that set the tone, and yet despite all of those great performances, one player stole the show on Monday Night Football, and it was Witherspoon, a rookie cornerback playing in just his third game.
Prior to that pick-six, the second longest in team history (Bobby Wagner had a 98-yarder in 2018), Witherspoon was already having a great game with two sacks and several physical tackles while playing in the nickel corner spot after playing left cornerback in the first two games.
Witherspoon's first sack came on a corner blitz, while the second showed off his instincts and playmaking ability. After Giants quarterback Daniel Jones threw a backward pass to receiver Parris Campbell, Campbell pulled up looking to throw, but Witherspoon made a quick break on the play, and got to Campbell before he could throw a pass, hauling him down for a loss.
Later, Witherspoon's interception and score came at a big moment, as the Giants were deep in Seahawks territory looking for a touchdown that would have made it a one-score game. Instead, Witherspoon read the play perfectly, jumped the route and blew the game open. Witherspoon finished game with seven tackles, 2.0 sacks, three quarterback hits and the pick-six, and said it was the first game he could recall, at any level, recording multiple sacks.
"He did a great job," said Wagner. "He had what, two sacks, a pick, I think he had a nice tackle on a crunch play on the outside. He played really, really well. He's really coming into his own. Every time he plays, he's very, very smart and every time he steps out there, he gets smarter."
Said Nwosu, "Man, he's looking good. Little 'Spoon, man. He's looking like a veteran out here; he's doing his thing. The 97-yard pick-six, the two sacks, he just looks so comfortable out there. He knows what he's doing, and I can't wait to see him keep growing and growing."
While no player is going to put up numbers like Witherspoon did on a weekly basis, nothing he did in this win came as a surprise to the people who decided to make him the No. 5 overall pick in this year's draft.
"I never thought he wouldn't play like this," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "This is why we took him, to be active and to show that he gets this game of football, and it comes easy to him, and he's an explosive, dynamic player.
"He did a great job again tonight. You can see why we like him. We didn't have Artie (Burns) tonight and we didn't have Tre Brown tonight, so he had to (play nickel cornerback) all night long for us, and it was a beautiful job. He's showing you who he is."
He's only three games into his NFL career, but after a breakout performance on Monday night, it's hard for Witherspoon's teammates not to dream big about what the rookie cornerback can do.
"He's gotten better each week," Brooks said. "To see him coming out here and just dominating this early in his career, it's a big sign that he's going to be great in this league for a long time."
The 12s made the cross-country trip to East Rutherford, NJ to support the Seahawks as they take on the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. Presented by TCL.