Aqib Talib was almost not a Denver Bronco this season, if we’re to believe one of the best NFL reporters.
“Heard an awful lot — some of it grounded in fact— about Denver being sorely tempted to deal Aqib Talib after the veteran corner suffered the mysterious gunshot wound in the off-season,” Peter King wrote in his Monday Morning Quarterback column in mid-September.
No one would have faulted the Broncos, really. This summer, Talib was allegedly hanging out in a Dallas park in the wee hours of the morning when he was shot in the leg. When asked how it occurred, Talib said that he was “too intoxicated to remember.”
The Broncos ended up sticking by their talented cornerback, though. And in Denver’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, it was apparent why: No one is better at baiting quarterbacks into throwing interceptions.
Talib picked off Buccaneers’ quarterback Jameis Winston twice.
The first occurred on Winston’s first throw of the game. Winston simply over-threw this one, and Talib took advantage.
He returned it to the Tampa Bay 11. One play later, Trevor Siemian found Demaryius Thomas for a TD to put Denver ahead 7-0.
In the second quarter, Talib struck again. Watch him let Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans get a little daylight on his route, only for Talib to close that space as the ball floats in the air.
The Broncos took over at Tampa Bay’s 22 after the turnover and punched it in for another touchdown in five plays.
Two first-half possessions, two Talib picks. That gave the Broncos’ offense a short field to work with, needing to cover 33 only yards combined to score two touchdowns. The scores won’t go down as defensive touchdowns on the stats sheet, but they were largely the product of the best interception artist in the game.
Talib is up to three interceptions on the season. He’s got 33 for his career, which is the most of anyone since he came into the league in 2008, as the Broncos’ Patrick Smyth pointed out.
Thirty-three picks in 111 career games. That nearly averages out to an interception every third game.
It’s no secret that Talib has had his brushes with the law over the years. His latest this summer nearly ended his career with Denver. It didn’t because Talib is immensely talented. A lot tends to get overlooked when you’re really good.