Thrust into action after multiple defensive backs fell to injury, Quinton Dunbar stepped up in a big way on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
Cornerback Quinton Dunbar's day started with a mental error that put his team in an early hole. But by the conclusion of the Redskins' 29-27 victory over the Giants, he had more than made up for that miscue.
With the Redskins leading 26-24 early in the fourth quarter, and the Giants driving, Washington needed to find a stop after being hamstrung by multiple penalties throughout the march down the field.
They got one on first-and-10. With the Giants on the Washington 15-yard line, quarterback Eli Manning dropped back and, facing some pressure up the middle, floated a pass in the direction of tight end Will Tye, who was streaking up the center of the field into the end zone.
Dunbar followed him the whole way, jumped and made a one-handed grab with his left arm reaching up for the ball, which tailed towards his side.
It was Dunbar's first interception of the season, and first since last November, when he also picked off Manning in the back of the end zone. It prevented the Giants from retaking the lead for the moment and would prove to be critical to the final score.
"Dunbar came in, one-hand interception," cornerback Josh Norman said. "One-hand interception, one-handed interception, and the ball went back to our offense."
Just a drive earlier, Dunbar was impressing with his hands in another important manner.
The Redskins faced a fourth-and-12 on their own 48-yard line down 24-23. Punter Tress Way entered the game to pin the Giants back into their own zone, or so everyone thought. As soon as Way caught the snap, he slung the ball down the left sideline where Dunbar was streaking.
Dunbar turned, was bumped a little by wide receiver Dwayne Harris, and managed to make the 31-yard catch with the hands he developed as a wide receiver at Florida. It was the first time a Redskins player caught a pass and made an interception in the same game since Champ Bailey did so against Arizona in 2000.
The Redskins made it count with a Dustin Hopkins 25-yard field goal to gain back the lead.
"It brought back memories. It was pretty cool," Dunbar said of his catch." I give it to God. God made that play. I just went out there and played my technique. I just put my hand up. I just located the ball and got my hand up and made a play. On third down, Coach came up to me and said, 'We gonna make it and we gonna call this play so be ready.' I focused in and when they called the play, I made the play."
"Huge shoutout to Quinton Dunbar," linebacker Will Compton said. "I'm so proud of that dude. Being undrafted, being a receiver going to DB [defensive back], this and that. He's got a hell of a story and for him to make a big play on special teams and then make a huge play on defense. It was awesome to see, awesome to see."
It all made up for the first time he touched the football after the defense forced the Giants to punt on the first drive of the game. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder waved for a fair catch and the ball bounced several yards in front of him. Dunbar was unaware of the ball's presence and it eventually hit him. The muffed punt let the Giants take over on offense, where they would eventually score a touchdown.
"I was blocking my man so I felt the ball hit my foot. So, I tried to go and get it. I don't have eyes in the back of my head," Dunbar said. "I guess the punt went short and Crowder couldn't get it so, I felt it hit my foot so I had to go get the ball. The coaches told me not to worry about it. I mean, it's football. It's a mistake I couldn't control it and I don't have eyes in the back of my head."
As Bashaud Breeland and DeAngelo Hall both sat out for the majority of the game after sustaining injuries, Dunbar knew he would have a chance at redemption if he kept the right mentality. With the team's back against the wall, he took advantage of his extra playing time in a big way.
"The coaches give the guys an opportunity to go out there and play. We all deserve to play," Dunbar said. "We have so many guys so you have a deep depth in the corner, so you have to let them go play.They did a good job on letting us go play today so credit goes to them."