By Mark Huber
Quinten Rollins made his first big splash in the National Football League with a pair of interceptions to help the Green Bay Packers improve to 5-0.
“Starting out 5-0 is great,” said Rollins after the game in an interview posted on the Packers website (packers.com).
The Packers defeated the St. Louis Rams 24-10 at Lambeau Field on a day with all-everything quarterback Aaron Rodgers had an “off” day.
But the Green Bay defense, led by Rollins, made the difference.
“It’s just about earning my stripes,” said Rollins, whose storybook adventure Wilmington High School to Miami of Ohio and then into the NFL has gained national attention. “I came in here with a free agent mentality even though I was drafted in the second round. I’m just trying to get better each and every day.”
Rollins had two interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown in the first quarter. The second interception came in the fourth quarter when the Rams were at the Green Bay 7 and threatening to score.
“The Pick-6 was big in the first quarter today from Q,” said Rodgers in his post-game comments.
The first interception came with the Packers leading 7-0 and neither team doing much offensively. On a third and 9 play from the St. Louis 42, quarterback Nick Foles was looking left for tight end Jared Cook.
The ball didn’t have much on it as Foles was pressured and there were three or four Packers in the general area. But Rollins was the one who came up with ball.
“I just wanted to get to the end zone,” the 2010 Wilmington High School graduate said. “Catch the ball first obviously, then get to the end zone after that when I saw all the green grass.”
The Pick-6 allowed Rollins to do his first Lambeau Leap, the customary post-touchdown celebration at Lambeau Field when a Green Bay playing scoring a touchdown jumps into the stands to be congratulated by the home fans.
“Good eyes,” Rollins said as to how he was able to record his first professional football interception. “2 went away. I saw 3 coming from the boundary and just got the opportunity to make a play.”
Rollins had two tackles on the day and they came on the same drive. In the third quarter, Rollins tackled St. Louis running back Todd Gurley on a first down play then brought down wide receiver Tavon Austin on a running play for no gain two plays later.
The second interception wasn’t necessarily a game-saver, but kept Packers’ players, coaches and fans from any unnecessary angst.
And, more importantly for Rollins, allowed the former Hurricane standout to make amends for getting beat on a long pass play just two plays earlier.
Green Bay led 24-10 but St. Louis had the ball first and 10 at its 20 with 1:03 to play. A touchdown and successful recovery of an onside kick would mean the Rams had a shot at sending the game into overtime.
After a Green Bay penalty on first down, Foles went deep down the left side to Steadman Bailey for a 68-yard gain. Rollins was in coverage.
“Anybody who knows me knows I was mad about that catch,” said Rollins. “But you have to move on from that. It’s about the next play and they came back at me.”
And Rollins gained the upper hand this time. Now at the Green Bay 7, Foles was looking for Austin but Rollins came up with the interception at the 4 to preserve the victory for the Packers.
“I was just fortunate enough to be in another good position to make a play and capitalize on it,” he said.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.