All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard had an outstanding 2020 season for the Miami Dolphins. Howard recorded ten interceptions, 51 tackles, twenty defended passes, and one forced fumble. Many fans thought that the X-man should have won the Defensive Player of the Year award, but as we eagerly wait to see Howard back on the field, let’s break down his ten interceptions from his all-pro season.
Interception #1, MIA vs. JAX
The Dolphins secured their first win of the season with a dominant performance over the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Howard getting his first interception of the season was the perfect way to cap the night off. It was late in the fourth quarter, and Howard was guarding WR Chris Conley. Howard shadows Conley the instant he releases on his route and seamlessly pins the receiver against the sideline. Howard puts himself in the perfect position to catch the back-shoulder pass and comes down with the football.
Interception #2, SEA vs. MIA
In the third quarter, Miami’s defense had their back against the wall, as Seattle was on Miami’s six-yard line looking to go up two possessions. Howard lines up against Pro Bowl WR DK Metcalf, and as soon as the play begins, Miami’s defensive line starts generating pressure. This forces QB Russell Wilson to throw off his back foot, allowing Howard to drive underneath the slant and make the play. This interception epitomizes the “bend-don’t-break” mantra that followed the Dolphins for the rest of the season.
— NFL (@NFL) February 27, 2021
Interception #3, MIA vs. SF
To secure his third interception of the season, X positioned himself to be in the right place at the right time. With less than 30 seconds left in the first half, QB Jimmy Garoppolo overthrows his receiver, Deebo Samuel, giving Howard the easy interception with some field in front of him. The Dolphins’ defense dominated the turnover game against the 49ers, and X got another tally to his interception total.
Interception #4, NYJ vs. MIA
The Dolphins shut out their division rivals in their first matchup of the 2020 season. Howard contributed to the dominant performance with his second-quarter interception while guarding WR Jamison Crowder. QB Joe Flacco starts to feel the pressure and throws the ball a little behind Crowder. Howard undercuts the pass and extends for the interception giving the Dolphins’ offense a short field. This marked the fourth consecutive game that Howard came down with an interception.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 18, 2020
Interception #5, LAC vs. MIA
QB Justin Herbert had an exceptional rookie season, and a lot of attention was on the matchup between the talented gunslinger and Miami’s secondary. Howard grabbed his fifth interception of the season on the young quarterback at the top of the fourth quarter. On a pivotal third-and-12, Howard positioned himself strategically near the first down marker as he baits Herbert to throw to WR Mike Williams. X jumps the route with perfect timing and takes the ball all the way into Chargers’ territory. This turnover helped set up a five-play touchdown drive for the Dolphins.
Interception #6, MIA vs. DEN
Howard got to work quickly against the Broncos, as the X-man picked off Denver on their first drive. QB Drew Lock became unsettled as Miami’s defensive front began to advance towards him. Lock tried to throw a quick pass over the middle only to see his throw snagged out the air by the all-pro defender. Howard makes the athletic grab showcasing his incredible ball skills, and brings in his sixth interception of the season.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 22, 2020
Interception #7, MIA vs. NYJ
In their second matchup against the Jets, Howard repeated his week six performance by grabbing another takeaway for the Dolphins. Howard’s late fourth-quarter interception finished off the Jets’ offense, as X shadows the quick-out route ran by WR Breshad Perriman. Howard had Perriman completely covered and snagged the ball away right when it got to his man.
Interception #8, CIN vs. MIA
The X-man brings in his eighth interception of the season with style, as he elevates and wins the jump ball over WR Tyler Boyd. Notice how on this play, Howard actually lines up in the slot and has to evade some traffic to get to his man. This play shows Howard’s speed, as he can dodge the traffic and catch up to Boyd with ease.
Xavien Howard grabs his 8th INT of the season! (leads NFL) #FinsUp
— NFL (@NFL) December 6, 2020
Interception #9, KC vs. MIA
All eyes were on the matchup between the speedster Tyreek Hill and the ballhawk Xavien Howard, and many wondered if Howard could keep up with Hill’s speed. Well, the X-man answered that question at the top of the fourth when he grabbed his ninth interception of the season. On this play, Howard lined up on Hill in the slot and stayed stride for stride with him on his corner route once the play began. As soon as QB Patrick Mahomes lets it go, X locates the football and then elevates for the spectacular one-handed interception showing everyone that he is one of the league’s best defensive backs.
Xavien Howard has an INT in five straight games. He has 9 INTs on the year, leading the league. This pick is NASTY. pic.twitter.com/CXaTqoOpIZ
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) December 13, 2020
Interception #10, MIA vs. BUF
In the final week of the season, Howard closed out the year with his tenth interception making him the first NFL player with double-digit interceptions since Antonio Cromartie in 2007. Howard snagged this pick while blending in traffic as QB Matt Barkley tried to find his TE Dawson Knox. Howard keeps his eyes on the quarterback the whole play, goes to the ball as soon as it’s thrown, and then comes down with the football for his tenth interception.