The pick-six play by LA Rams Kenny Young displays defense mindset

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

LA Rams ILB Kenny Young’s pick-six displays just how well this defense is playing, and trusting, one another

The LA Rams defense may be playing very well, but try to pick out one player to applaud. He will gracefully bow out, pointing to his teammates who contributed equally to the success. The LA Rams team is successful because the pieces are less than the sum of the parts. In football terms, the defense is successful because so many players are willing to contribute in the shadows to spotlight a teammate’s performance.

Let’s cite an example of what we mean.  One of the key plays in the Thursday Night Football game was inside linebacker Kenny Young’s interception of Patriots QB Cam Newton. Not only did he get an interception, but he ran it back 71-yards for a pick-six touchdown.  At face value, the play appears to be a simple but outstanding effort of a linebacker to make a level-headed play to get the Rams out of a field position jam. But let’s investigate that play a bit further.

Interception breakdown

The Patriots had just gotten possession of the ball thanks to a freak interception of a pass meant for WR Robert Woods, that was literally ripped away from Woods by DB Myles Bryant, taking over at the Rams 36-yard line.  The Patriots opened with a 12-yard rush off the right tackle by Damien Harris, followed by Harris up the middle for one yard.  Having established the run, the Patriots opted for a screen pass to the right on second down with nice yards to go.

On the play, OLB Leonard Floyd flew around the edge as he rushed the quarterback, forcing Newton to throw off balance and prematurely. Meanwhile, defensive lineman Aaron Donald recognized the screen for what it was and held the running back Damien Harris at the line of scrimmage (perfectly legal to do between the tackles).  That quick-thinking slowed down Harris and disrupted the play.

Won’t show up in the box score

Out came the football to the spot Harris was supposed to be. He was not there because he tangled with Aaron Donald. Cam Newton was under pressure and simply threw to the right spot on the football field. Linebacker Kenny Young recognized the play unfolding before him and ran the interception the length of the field for a touchdown. He was escorted by both Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald down the field.

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On the stats sheet, LB Kenny Young intercepted the pass and scored a touchdown. But on the field, a handful of players made key contributions to make that all possible. No player will step up to the microphone and claim a part of the successful play. But that’s the magic of this defense. Players are not playing for headlines or statistics. They have bought in on the culture of defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, and are playing for one another.  That’s what makes this defense so dangerous. They are willing to do their part for one another.