Almost 24 hours after the Green Bay Packers lost to the Detroit Lions, rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix found something to smile about.
As rough as Sunday was for the Packers, Clinton-Dix will keep one fond memory. He intercepted Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford in the first quarter, his first career pick. It was also the first of three turnovers Green Bay's defense forced.
Yes, Clinton-Dix said, he got to bring the football with him back to Green Bay.
"It's going to be put up in the case somewhere," Clinton-Dix said, flashing a wide grin.
Clinton-Dix, a first-round pick in May, snapped a 22-game streak without an interception for Packers safeties. It was the first interception for a Packers safety since Morgan Burnett had two picks Dec. 2, 2012 against the Minnesota Vikings.
"You know, I never thought about that," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said Monday when asked if it was good to see a safety finally intercept a pass. "Now that you bring it up, yes."
Clinton-Dix's interception came after Stafford overthrew an open receiver downfield on third-and-long, and cornerback Davon House tipped the football into the air. The rookie made similar plays a few times in training camp last month.
Clinton-Dix said he's always had a knack for interceptions off tipped passes.
"Coach always talks about playing the tips and overthrows," Clinton-Dix said. "We have to have them. So I took advantage of the opportunity.
"You can never know what happens. Just keep flying around to the ball, and it'll come to you."
Clinton-Dix received a plus-.9 grade from Pro Football Focus on Monday morning. He played 30 defensive snaps – almost half the snaps fellow safety Micah Hyde received – and 19 in pass coverage. Clinton-Dix's plus-1.3 grade in pass coverage was highest on the defense.
It was the first positive overall grade Clinton-Dix received from Pro Football Focus in his three games, and his highest coverage grade of the season. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers said the rookie is rounding into shape.
"I think he has the ability to go out and make plays for us," Capers said. "So hopefully that's a sign of things to come. That ball, again, was a third-and-long, and (Stafford) had to throw it up the field. The ball is tipped, and (Clinton-Dix) came down with it, and that's what you want. There are tips and overthrows.
"I think it's vision, and just reacting to the ball and focusing on the football and being able to go up and come down with it."
-firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood