It's been a running joke between Joe Whitt and Micah Hyde for some time now.
For all of Hyde's supposed ball skills, the Green Bay Packers' second-year defensive back didn't have an interception to his NFL ledger. He's constantly been around the ball and came close to pick in January's playoff loss to San Francisco, but couldn't bring one in.
In his 26th NFL game, Hyde got on the board when he darted in front of a Jay Cutler floater intended for tight end Martellus Bennett and returned it 9 yards to stymie the Bears' second possession. The Packers' offense scored four plays later and the 55-14 rout was on.
It was his first interception since picking off Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner on Nov. 17, 2012.
"I was excited for him. That was a nice play," said Whitt, the Packers' cornerbacks coach. "I've been getting on Micah because everybody talks about how good his ball skills are. I said, 'Well, hell, I can't say he has good ball skills because he's never intercepted one in a game.' Now that he has one, I can jump on everybody else's band wagon. He's a talented kid and he does have good ball skills."
Hyde didn't have an interception, but he's made a significant impact on the defense. When Casey Hayward was lost for the season with a hamstring injury, it was Hyde who stepped into his role in the slot of the nickel subpackage.
The Packers converted him to safety this season where he started seven of the team's first eight games before defensive coordinator Dom Capers slid him back into the slot to help the nickel package defend the run.
The defense kept at least five defensive backs for almost the entire game, but contained the Bears to only 55 yards on 24 carries (2.3 yards per attempt). They also forced Cutler into three turnovers, beginning with Hyde's second-quarter interception.
"Good sign for him, man," cornerback Tramon Williams said. "It could take him to another level. A little bit more confidence, you never know what a thing like that can do for a player like that who I think is going to be a really good player. He can do everything pretty well."
The Packers are now tied for fourth in the NFL interceptions after Hayward picked off Cutler in the third quarter and returned it for an 82-yard touchdown. The defense's 12 picks already has surpassed the 11 the defense had all of last season.
Hyde fumbled the ball after the play was over, but quickly picked it up and stored the keepsake on the sideline.
"I was waiting patiently for a year-and-a-half and finally it came," Hyde said. "It's kind of one of those things. A d-lineman doesn't have a sack within a year-and-a-half, it's like, 'OK, let's get that sack. Let's get that pick out of the way.' I'm glad it's over and I can just move on from it."
But was it enough to silence Whitt?
"Joe talks junk," said Hyde, smiling. "Even after the pick, Joe is going to talk his junk. I just try to shut him up by getting another one."
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