As Pat Surtain II celebrates his 23rd birthday on Friday, it seems like an opportune time to check out some of the best moments from his young NFL career. Let's count them down:
3. The two-pick game vs. the Chargers
There may be no greater challenge for a rookie in the NFL than being a starting cornerback against more veteran quarterbacks. Surtain, though, held his own for much of the year with a savviness beyond his years, and when he was tested, he could make any quarterback pay. And in Week 12 against the Chargers, former Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert understood just that.
As the fourth quarter opened, Los Angeles was down by a touchdown but in the red zone and looking to score. With Herbert under center, it certainly appeared that they were in good position to tie the game and perhaps come back to win later on.
But as Herbert looked to the end zone for the tying score, Surtain picked off a pass to end the Chargers' drive.
Then, on the Chargers' next possession, Surtain nabbed another interception off a deflection. This time, he returned it 70 yards for a touchdown. The game essentially marked Surtain's arrival as a force to be reckoned with.
2. The diving pick vs. the Chiefs
Interceptions were harder to come by in his second season as quarterbacks increasingly recognized the risk, so Surtain had to wait until Week 14 to get his first of the year. Against the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes, Surtain came up with a timely pick late in the second quarter with Kansas City driving and looking to build on a 20-point lead.
At first, it didn't even look like there was an interception to be had. Mahomes' pass was low and behind the intended receiver. But Surtain dove to the ground just for the chance at making a play on it. Video review by the officials confirmed he indeed made the catch, and Surtain later called it one of his favorite plays.
"My first pick against the Chiefs in the regular season, I feel like that's probably one of my favorites," Surtain said before the Pro Bowl Games. "People was thinking if it hit the ground or not, but then I scooped my forearm under the football and made the catch, so when I saw it on the big screen, it was pretty dope. That was probably my favorite catch so far."
1. His first interception
It's hard to beat your first pick, and the one Surtain snagged in Week 2 of the 2021 season was particularly remarkable. In a matchup with the top-overall pick from his same draft, Surtain outdueled Trevor Lawrence for a deep pass that he would regret.
Sprinting down the left sideline stride for stride with Jaguars receiver Tyron Johnson, Surtain tracked the ball and positioned himself so that Johnson could not come back to the ball. On the tightrope with the sideline, Surtain twisted and secured the catch before falling out of bounds.
In just his first start, Surtain showed just the kind of ballhawk he could be — suffocating and also dangerous for opposing quarterbacks.