From interception to celebration

RedEye goes Inside the Helmet with Major Wright and Stephen Paea

September 30, 2012|By Jack M Silverstein | For RedEye

Midway through the fourth quarter of last week's Bears-Rams game, St. Louis was attempting to drive for a tying touchdown. But on second-and-10 from the Rams 39, Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea forced quarterback Sam Bradford into a hurried throw, cornerback Tim Jennings tipped the pass, and safety Major Wright ran the deflection back for a touchdown.

How did Paea get such a good jump on the snap? Why was Wright so close to receiver Danny Amendola when the ball arrived? RedEye goes Inside the Helmet to find out.

Tell us what was going on as that play unfolded.

Stephen Paea: I had a good feel for the snap. It was the fourth quarter. And I felt like I had the advantage to know what they're doing. Know the offense a little bit more, how the quarterback snapped the ball, things like that.

Major Wright: It was man coverage. I had coverage on tight end. Tight end was down, and me coming from depth, being at 12 yards coming down, I was reading the quarterback. I seen Sam Bradford looking one way, and as I was watching film the whole week, he's not a quarterback who looks off. He won't look one way and throw back the other way. So I was like [drops his voice], "I might as well take my shot."

When you started approaching, what were you thinking? Because when you came flying in, the ball hadn't been tipped yet.

MW: Right, it hadn't been tipped. Studying film just kind of helped me get a bead on it. Me coming down, I'm just trying to put myself in the best position to make a play on my tight end. He was just running an over route, and I was like "OK, Sam Bradford is looking [toward Amendola]. I might as well go this way."

So I just went that way, and once I seen that, Tim [Jennings] tipped the ball. I was like, "Well, I might as well catch it if I'm right here." [Smiles.] So I caught it and went on in with it.

SP: It was a quick pass. I got in there, and I was just 2 yards away from the quarterback and he threw it. I ran back just trying to run to the ball, and I saw that it was deflected and intercepted.

I was excited. I went to look for somebody to block to help Major Wright get a touchdown. And then everybody got excited. That's the first score the defense has had this year, and first of many.

As soon as you caught the ball, you knew it was a touchdown. I mean, there was nobody ahead of you.

MW: Yeah, but you always gotta be aware, because they've got speed guys too. I had to end up running it in full speed.

When you're running down the field and you know you're going to score, what does it look like to be looking at all the fans who are all in the end zone going, [makes excited fan noise]?

MW: It's a great feeling. It's a feeling that you really can't describe. It's joyful. You're making other people happy, the coaches happy, family happy—it's just joyful.

Last thing: Tell us about the dance.

MW: It's called Choppa City. It's an Orlando dance. You see Chris Johnson do it. Brandon Marshall did it a couple times. I got it from them. I kind of threw my little thing in with it and just did it. Just choppin' it up, throwin' it up, catch it, [snaps his fingers] bring it back down. That's it. It's just a fun little dance.

Special contributor Jack M Silverstein covers the Bears for RedEye. Say hey @readjack.

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