When Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Brice McCain intercepted a pass from Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles and returned it for a touchdown with 11:32 left in the fourth quarter Sunday, head coach Mike Tomlin was probably the least surprised person in the stadium.
During his post game press conference, Tomlin revealed that McCain, who was signed during the offseason after he was released by the Houston Texans, had a great week of practice leading up to the game.
“That’s the type of week he had in practice, said Tomlin. “He probably had four picks this week in practice. It just reinforces the concept of the things you do in practice have an opportunity to turn up in a game. He had a really good week of practice and it’s just good football justice to see him have an opportunity like that and cash in on it.”
Immediately after the game, McCain was asked by Craig Wolfley of the Steelers Radio Network to describe the interception.
“I’ve been playing these guys for five years. They gave me the chicken wing signal and I jumped outside,” said McCain. “I thought he was going to throw it up high, but he threw it low and I was looking back already and he threw it right to me.”
Bortles was also asked about the interception after the game.
“I should have stayed with the play that was called, but it was just a bad read by me,” he said.
On the play, Bortles checked to the ill-fated pass play out of a run. The Steelers had a blitz coming in the face of Bortles on the play and McCain had enough time to work over the top of fellow cornerback Cortez Allen an intercept the pass.
When the season started, McCain was the fourth cornerback on the depth chart behind Antwon Blake. However, after starter Ike Taylor went down injured in the Week 3 game against the Carolina Panthers, McCain became the starting nickel back as William Gay moved outside to take Taylor’s spot opposite Allen.
After Sunday’s game, Tomlin was asked if McCain won the starting nickel job last week or this week in practice.
“I really think that just with his work and level of focus, intensity and attention to detail on the practice field made us all comfortable,” said Tomlin. “He’s played more defense than those other guys. Couple that with the practice performance, we gave him the first opportunity and obviously he hadn’t disappointed with how he played, not only today but I thought he did some good things last week as well.”