When Brian Orakpo picked off a deflected Jay Cutler pass and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown, it marked not only the first interception and touchdown of his NFL career, but also the first interception and touchdown of his whole life.
Orakpo had missed a couple of interception opportunities during his five-year NFL career, but hadn’t had many chances. As a defensive end in college and in high school, he didn’t find himself in position to record any interceptions. And he hadn’t had any fumble recoveries for touchdowns, either.
“I’ve never scored, actually,” Orakpo said after the game. “I started playing football in middle school and I never scored in middle school, high school, college or the pros. I’ve never had a pick in general. It was a crazy feeling. I was so excited that I didn’t know what to do once I got in the end zone. It was a phenomenal feeling. I’ve been preaching that I’m trying to get my ‘Ryan Kerrigan’ on, with all the picks he’s got – and Rob Jackson. I’m trying to catch up a little bit.”
Orakpo spoke of fellow linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Rob Jackson. Kerrigan has two interceptions (both returned for touchdowns), and Jackson has five interceptions (one returned for a touchdown).
Orakpo’s first pick-six came on a bit of wacky play. Safety Reed Doughty defended a high pass from Jay Cutler to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery reached up for the ball, but couldn’t secure it. The ball came down and bounced off of Doughty’s helmet, into the air and into the hands of Orakpo, who found himself in the neighborhood.
The linebacker ran untouched into the end zone.
“The crazy thing is, it all kind of fell into place,” Orakpo said. “We’ve been preaching ever since the Green Bay game: ‘Getting 11 helmets into the frame, running to the ball.’ We’ve been doing it throughout practice for the past four weeks. Everybody is running to the ball. I don’t care if it’s 60 yards down the field, just run to the ball – and that’s what happened. I was in coverage and I had nothing really to work. Reed made a hell of a play on the ball, and I just happened to be there, running to the ball, chasing it and it fell right into my lap. I was able to take it to the crib. It was a great feeling.”
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