When the ball left Baker Mayfield's hands, Quandre Diggs may or may not have muttered a few words not suitable for print.
Rams receiver Van Jefferson was wide open running down the field on Los Angeles' second offensive play in overtime, and when Mayfield unleashed a deep pass, it appeared that Jefferson might be on his way to a walk-off touchdown, or at the very least a long catch that would put the Rams in position to kick a game-winning field goal.
But as the throw traveled toward Jefferson, Diggs broke on the ball, sprinted to his right, and was able to leap in front of Jefferson for a game-saving interception. That play, combined with a win by Diggs' former team, the Detroit Lions, helped the Seahawks secure a playoff berth.
Asked to rehash the play, Diggs quipped, "I'll probably use some bad language, because dude was wide open. In my mind, I'm thinking the worst."
But after fearing the worst, Diggs, who made the Pro Bowl for a third straight season, did was he does best, erasing a big play and turning into a positive for the Seahawks.
"Oh man, I felt like I was 25 again running and jumping in the air," Diggs said. "For me it was just one of those plays, they drew it up perfect, they got us in the coverage that they wanted us in, and I was able to just go out and make a play. That's probably my favorite interception ever, because just the atmosphere, everything that went along with this game, this interception, it was dope. All I saw was the ball, and I was like, 'I'm going to go get it,' and I was able to go get it and I caught it.
As Diggs noted, the play was magnified by what was at stake. With the Seahawks needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, a catch there by Jefferson could have essentially eliminated Seattle from the playoffs. Instead, Diggs had his fourth interception of the season, and after a 17-yard Geno Smith-to-Tyler Lockett pass and a 20-yard Kenneth Walker III run, the Seahawks were in range for Jason Myers to kick the game-winner, giving the Seahawks a 19-16 win.
"I was sitting down on the bench, and I looked up, and I just see Quandre jumping in the air and catching the ball over his shoulder looking like a wideout," Smith said. "That's something that he has always done, man. I'll go back to our time playing at Texas when we played him. He was one of those players I was watching on film like, man, you have to watch out for No. 6. He has carried that throughout his career. He is a ball hawk. If that ball is in his area, he is going to get it. Quandre is one of the best defensive players I've played with, but also one of the best teammates I've ever had."
While four interceptions and a Pro Bowl selection are great accomplishments, Diggs also knows he could have had more if not for a few drops earlier in the year, and he knew he had to have this one.
"I've been getting some grief, and I've been holding myself accountable for dropping other ones, but I had to get that one," Diggs said.
Said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, "He timed it up perfectly to get it on the sidelines over there. He is such a great ball hawk that of course he is going to make that play if you give him a chance. But for him to make it, he is a hero around here. These guys love him. He is a great leader, and they've got nicknames for him and all kinds of stuff, and he is tough as nails. When he speaks, everybody shuts up, and then to come through and make a play like that, it's just beautiful and fitting and really happy for him."
And if a game-changing interception wasn't sweet enough on its own for Diggs, the moment was even more special because it came one day short of a much more forgettable ending to a season for Diggs. In Seattle's season-finale a year ago, Diggs broke his leg and dislocated his ankle, an injury made all the worse by the fact that he about to hit free agency. As it turned out Diggs still got a big new contract with Seattle and made it back for the start of this season, but that finish to last season contrasted against his final snap of the 2022 regular season still make for quite a one-year turnaround.
"I'm having fun with it," Diggs said. "I'm blessed, I'm thankful for the opportunity. Tomorrow will be 365 days from when I broke my leg and dislocated my ankle, so I'm thankful for the opportunity, I'm thankful to be back playing ball. I wouldn't be able to do it without my teammates and my coaches and my family, everybody who's been with me through this last year. It's super special to me. It's a blessing, I'm just having fun with the game and enjoying the game as much as I can, because I've had it take away from me, and I don't want to feel that anymore."
After snagging the interception, Diggs immediately spotted Bobby Wagner on the sideline and pointed at his former teammate with the ball, being, as he put it, a menace of a little brother who has the utmost respect for his big brother.
"As soon as I caught it I saw him over there," he said. "I know he usually stands away from everybody, so when I saw him, it as just like, Show big bro I got the ball, like the little brother, the menace. I've always kind of been a menace, so for me showing big brother the ball and making a play to help the team."
A little playful trash talk notwithstanding, Diggs has nothing but love for Wagner, who gave him his jersey after the game.
"It's dope," Diggs said. "To have the respect and the love and appreciation that I have for him, and the same that he has for me—you've got a hall of fame player, a hall of fame person that loves you and respects you, and always looks out for me no matter what, for me it's so dope to have that type of bond and relationship. Me coming here almost four years ago, it changed my career, it changed my life, and Bobby and K.J. (Wright), those guys were instrumental in that. I'll always be thankful and I'll always hold them in high regard."
Check out some of the best action shots from Week 18 vs. the Los Angeles Rams at Lumen Field on January 8, 2023. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.