Fabian Moreau lined up at the Detroit Lions’ 33-yard line on Sunday, his eyes focused squarely on quarterback Jeff Driskel. He and the rest of the Redskins’ defense were just seconds away from something that hadn’t happened at FedExField since Oct. 21, 2018: a home victory.
The game was essentially in hand; rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins had just directed a 6-play, 33-yard drive that allowed kicker Dustin Hopkins to nail a 39-yard field goal and give the Redskins a 19-16 lead with 16 seconds left . Still, anything can happen in the final moments of a game, and Moreau didn’t want to take any chances.
Driskel had his eyes on wide receiver Marvin Jones from the moment the play began. As he was winding up for the throw, Moreau broke on the route, and before Jones could get his hands on the pass, Moreau snatched the ball out of the air and ran for five yards before being brought to the ground.
It was Moreau’s second interception of the day, and it was an exclamation point on a career performance from the third-year player.
“I was just trying to make a play and end the game,” Moreau said. “I didn’t want them to have an opportunity for a Hail Mary because you never know what happens in those situations. I just felt like I could make the play, and I did.”
A third-round pick out of UCLA in 2017, Moreau has been featured more in the Redskins’ defense since their Monday Night Football game against the Chicago Bears. He has played in at least half of the defensive snaps in eight of the past nine games and played in 83% of the snaps against the Lions.
Moreau has taken advantage of the extra snaps; he has 34 tackles this year, and Sunday gave him his first multi-interception game.
“He played pretty good,” said interim head coach Bill Callahan. “Our coverage was tight. …I thought we were resilient, we had good resolve and came back and made the critical stops when needed to make them on defense.”
Moreau’s 63 snaps were the most he had received since Week 8 against the Minnesota Vikings when he played in 92% of the defensive snaps. Moreau’s assessment of his performance after having two interceptions: “I did all right.”
“It’s building blocks,” Moreau said. “One game at a time, happy to get this W and move on to the next.”
Moreau didn’t waste much time leaving his imprint on the game. Early in the second quarter, Detroit was driving in Washington territory. On a 1st-and-10 from the Redskins’ 45-yard line, Driskel launched a pass to Michael Hall, who was sprinting down the right sideline. Moreau matched him step-for-step, though, and as the ball sailed toward its target, Moreau reached out and grabbed it for his first interception of the season.
“We knew [Hall] was their ‘shot guy,’” Moreau said. “He just happened to be in the game, and I knew they were going to take a shot, so I just tried to go up and make a play.”
Rather than give credit to himself, he praised the rest of the defense for giving one of its best outings of the season.
“My hat goes off to the other 10 guys,” Moreau said. “They played well, they played great, they played fast. I’m just happy to be a part of it. …They played their hearts out.”
Moreau’s second interception essentially ended the game, and Callahan loved that as a way to seal the win.
“I thought the interception was fabulous to close it out,” he said.
Moreau is now tied with safety Montae Nicholson for second on the team in interceptions. Only Quinton Dunbar, who has four, is ahead of him.
“I’m trying to be like him,” Moreau said of Dunbar. “He’s the best corner in the league.”
Moreau is all about making sure his teammates get the praise before him. But his interceptions were game-changing moments, and he played a big part in making sure the Redskins got their first home win in over a year.
And although he is a “team-first” player, he did save something for himself: the balls he intercepted.
“I kept them,” Moreau said with a smile.