Very rarely is there a defensive player that can single handily win a game in the NFL, but that’s exactly what Kerby Joseph did for the Detroit Lions.
In pre-season action, rookie safety, Kerby Joseph looked extremely raw. Targeted by defenses, abused by receivers, quarterbacks and tight-ends. His outlook has improved dramatically since then, even before this game.
Against Minnesota, Lions captain and safety, Tracy Walker III tore his Achilles and was ruled out for the season. The young Joseph was thrusted into a much larger starting role. Replacing Walker was a big ask.
His impact was not immediate. It took him a few weeks to get comfortable and play his brand of football. Every week leading up to this Sunday, we’ve seen visible improvement for the rookie.
Against Dallas Joseph made a play at the goal-line flipping the receiver in the air and causing a fumble. He also defended a pass in coverage and had five total tackles.
In week eight Jospeh repeated his production forcing yet another fumble and had six total tackles against Miami.
Just when expectations for the young safety began to seep in, he did more than most thought was capable. Against the Lions killer, Aaron Rodgers, Joseph made play-after-play to stop the four-time MVP. He picked off Rodgers twice, something that only three other players have ever done, per Fox NFL Broadcast.
It was a career low day for Rodgers. He had never thrown two-interceptions in the red-zone before today. He also hasn’t thrown three interceptions in one game since 2017.
Joseph’s first interception of the game came in the first quarter. Rodgers threw a shallow ball at the five-yard-line intended for Allen Lazard. The football launched into the air after drilling Derrick Barnes in the head. Jospeh found the ball, jumped and grabbed it out of the air. It was his first career interception.
Early in the third quarter, Joseph also made an outstanding pass defend. On third-down at Detroit’s 44-yard-line, Rodgers heaved a deep ball to Samori Toure for what looked to be a for-sure touchdown. Without fouling, Joseph remained calm and made a perfect play, deflecting the ball with his right hand at the last minute.
Two plays into the next possession Joseph made yet another game-saving play.
After Jared Goff threw a quick interception on their own side of the field, the defense was tasked with holding Green Bay in their own territory once again. Fortunately, Jospeh remained in “the zone.” He read Rodgers eyes perfectly, cut in-front of the intended receiver for his second interception of the game.
In total, against Green Bay, Joesph combined for 10 total tackles (five solo), three pass defends and two interceptions.
The thought of a rookie safety picking off Rodgers twice, in one game, is hard to imagine. Joseph made the impossible, possible. This game should bode well for the rookies confidence, but at the end of the day, he’s still a rookie.
Joseph is undoubtedly on a roll. Inconsistency is a common theme for young players, if Joseph can counter that statement, he might just become a budding star on this Detroit Lions team.
The Lions’ defense held on strong, defeating Green Bay 15-9 in week nine of the 2022 NFL season. The third-round pick out of Illinois has proved he belongs on this team. Hopefully for the Lions, he proves more than that in upcoming weeks.
Photo Credit: David Reginek – USA TODAY Sports