Christmas came early for a former Clemson defensive lineman this week.
Late in the fourth quarter of the primetime “Thursday Night Football” NFL game, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Carlos Watkins intercepted New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown in the Cowboys’ 27-17 victory at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.
“It was a weird play,” Watkins told reporters after the game. “They kind of got to the ball early, we kind of went set. Me and Chauncey (Cowboys defensive end Chauncey Golston) had a game going, and I just happened to come around and the ball came right to me. Early Christmas present.”
Good 🙌, @carloswatkins94 !!!
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) December 3, 2021
According to Next Gen Stats, Watkins reached a max speed of 17.26 miles per hour (the second-fastest speed of his career) en route to the end zone during his pick-six – or probably more appropriately called a “thick-six” for the 6-foot-3, 305-pound Watkins.
“It was definitely an early Christmas present. It’s every fat guy’s dream, man,” he said. “You get a pick and then make it to the end zone – it’s every guy’s dream.”
While it was Watkins’ first interception return for a touchdown in the NFL, it wasn’t his first career pick-six – in 2015, as a redshirt junior at Clemson, Watkins provided a highlight of Clemson’s 41-10 win over Appalachian State when he returned his first career interception for a touchdown.
“It’s been a minute,” said Watkins, a fifth-year pro who spent each of the last four seasons with the Houston Texans. “Back like junior year in college, redshirt junior year in college, against App State, I got one. It was like 15 yards. It felt good.”
The worst part of Thursday’s pick-six against the Saints?
Watkins joked it was the celebration afterward when he was swarmed by excited teammates, showing him love in a not-so-gentle way – something he will be better prepared for if he finds the end zone again.
“That’s like the worst part, though, the celebration,” Watkins said. “Because you can’t breathe, everybody’s grabbing your head. Bash (Cowboys defensive end Tarell Basham) tackled me after the play. But now I see why Tre (Cowboys cornerback (Trevon Diggs), he runs away from everybody. So, I’m going to take that note, and next time I’m running away from everybody.”
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