Something clicked for Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard a week ago. Unfortunately for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, his hot play carried into the teams’ Week 14 matchup on Monday night.
It’s one thing to pick off the Denver Broncos’ Trevor Siemian twice in one contest—which he did for the first two interceptions of his career—but the second-year pro followed that breakout performance by doing the same to a future Hall of Famer in Brady.
Howard picked Brady off on the Patriots’ first possession of the game, recognizing Brandin Cooks’ route and undercutting it.
Great play by Xavien Howard to undercut the route and get this interception. pic.twitter.com/9ZzWzfOoYe
— Eric Elizondo (@EricElizondo8) December 12, 2017
New England’s opening drive of the second half would suffer a similar fate. Trying to go deep to Cooks, Brady was once again intercepted by Howard.
— FanWagon (@FanWagonApp) December 12, 2017
Behind Howard’s shutting down Cooks—the New England wide receiver made one catch for 38 yards on seven targets—and a career day from walking punchline Jay Cutler, the Dolphins bested the Pats 27-20
Though the Dolphin made a splash in Week 13, his hot play dates back a week earlier than that.
Xavien Howard the last 3 weeks:
2 catches allowed
0 yards after the catch allowed
4 pass breakups
0.0 passer rating
— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) December 12, 2017
“I’ve done OK using the right technique,” Howard said after the victory. “Guys are going to catch the ball, but you’ve got to make plays and take chances out there.
“That’s something I’ve said I need to do more, take chances and stuff like that because guys are going to catch the ball. It’s the league. I try my best to stop them from catching the ball. But you have to go out there and make a play, be confident in what you’re doing.”
Brady completed 24 of 43 passes for just 233 yards, with a touchdown and those two picks. Cutler went 25-of-38 for 263 yards, three touchdowns, and zero turnovers.
“[Howard’s] confidence is really getting up there,” said Dolphins head coach Adam Gase. “He’s had two really good games in a row. It’s good to see him really feeling it … if we can leave him one on one a lot that helps us.”