DENVER – Rodney Thomas II came down with his first career interception in the Colts' 12-9 win over the Denver Broncos, but he felt like he should've had one before that.
No, he wasn't talking about his freak collision with a game official on a Russell Wilson deep ball in the third quarter. Or the near-interception he had in the first quarter on a deep ball to wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.
He was talking about the spectacular pass break-up he had in Week 3, when he covered acres of turf at Lucas Oil Stadium to swat away a Patrick Mahomes deep ball intended for Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Justin Watson.
"Should've grabbed that one," Thomas said. "… We're trying to get the ball back to the offense."
Thomas has impressed coaches and teammates with his athleticism and instincts since he tagged in following Julian Blackmon's ankle injury in the first half of the Colts' Week 3 win over the Chiefs. For a seventh-round pick from Yale who didn't get an invite to the NFL Combine, Thomas has hardly looked overwhelmed by the spotlight of patrolling the back end of Gus Bradley's defense.
"That guy's a playmaker," head coach Frank Reich said. "He can tackle. He can cover. He's smart, he understands it. He is playing big-time football right now."
Anyways, on that collision: Thomas was tracking a vintage Wilson moon ball 50 yards from the line of scrimmage in the third quarter. Reich thought Thomas was going to intercept the pass; at the least, he was in position to make a play on the ball.
Until a game official got in his way.
"I didn't know he was behind me," Thomas said. "I'm just running back, eyes on the ball. I was about to go up and make a play on the ball. Literally at the last second I ran into something, I had no idea what it was until I got up and saw it after.
"It was just a freak play, it seems like something that barely happens. You can't really do anything about it, just get up and go to the next play and try to make a stop on the next play."
Thanks to a drive-ending sack by DeForest Buckner, and then Grover Stewart blocking the ensuing field goal, the Broncos didn't score any points off that freak play (for brevity's sake, you could sum it up with three words: Ball don't lie). But Thomas also didn't let it affect him as the game went on, and continued playing the kind of sound coverage that helped keep Denver out of the end zone on Thursday night.
"Every time the ball's up, I'm thinking pick," Thomas said. "So I'm thinking I'm going up to get the ball, then boom, last second. Gotta move to the next play."