Ken Crawley knew what was coming.
The New Orleans Saints’ second-year cornerback had done his film study and gotten a pretty good idea what Miami liked to do in the situation it was in – namely, first-and-goal from the Saints’ 4-yard line, on the opening drive of Sunday’s game at Wembley Stadium in London.
So when Crawley saw a big target (Dolphins tight end Julius Thomas, to be specific) break the huddle and line up as a receiver to the right of the formation, Crawley knew what to expect. There was going to be a pass from Miami quarterback Jay Cutler – back-shoulder, jump ball, something – and it was going to be intended for Thomas, directed at Crawley.
But the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Crawley jammed up the 6-5, 262-pound Thomas and as soon as the ball was released, Crawley became more of the intended receiver than did Thomas. Crawley made a leaping interception in the end zone, the first of his career, and led the Saints defense out of danger on the drive that turned out to be Miami’s deepest penetration in New Orleans’ 20-0 victory.
Crawley’s pick was a momentum-stealer and reminiscent of the competitiveness that was exhibited all offseason and preseason by Saints defensive backs. The Dolphins’ opening drive began at their 15 and reached the Saints’ 4 – with Miami able to produce first downs out of a first-and-25 jam from their own 43, and on third-and-8 from the Saints’ 27 – and it lasted 8:32.
Still, the knock on the door was rebuffed by Crawley, who has been outstanding in the last two games, both victories in which he has started after being inactive the first two games.