OAKLAND, Calif. – Vikings cornerback Terence Newman was being more than a little humble while describing the game-sealing second of his two interceptions in Sunday’s 30-14 win over the Raiders at Oakland Alameda County Stadium.
“I had Andre Holmes, which is obviously a favorable matchup for them, with him being 6-4 and me being 5-12 … ish,” Newman said with a smile before describing how he got in position to tip the ball to himself in the end zone for a touchback with 2:03 left and the Raiders in the red zone and trailing by nine points.
Newman is listed at 5-10, but Captain Munnerlyn poked his voice into Newman’s postgame interview to set the record straight.
“Tell them you’re 5-9,” said the 5-9 Munnerlyn.
Right now, the Vikings aren’t too worried about how tall or short Newman is. Or how old or not-so-young he is.
Newman, 37, and Raiders safety Charles Woodson, 39, are the NFL’s two oldest active defensive backs. They didn’t look out of place Sunday.
“We’re old and we still love the game,” Newman said. “As long as we still love the game and our bodies are able to still play the game, we’ll be out here. I’m just trying to catch him. Watching him play, it’s like it’s his third year out of Michigan.”
Newman wasn’t the best old defensive back on the field. He was the best defensive back on the field, period.
He had five passes defensed and two interceptions. In his 13th season, he finally has more career picks (39) than birthday candles.
Newman’s interceptions led to 10 Vikings points. The first one came in the first quarter and led to a 20-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead.
“The quarterback [Derek Carr] just looked that way,” Newman said. “He has a lot of trust in Amari [Cooper]. I just tried to jump the route and it paid off.”
As for the second interception, Newman purposely didn’t bring the ball out of the end zone, so that the offense could run out the clock.
“Unluckily for Adrian [Peterson], he goes 80 yards [for a touchdown],” Newman said. “I was expecting him to just take a knee and run it out. But he scores. I should have run it out.”
Newman also had two physical pass breakups in tight coverage on back-to-back plays, forcing the Raiders to go three-and-out on the first series of the third quarter. He almost had a third interception when he jumped a route and fought for the ball with fullback Marcel Reese. On the next play he roughed up the rookie Cooper while knocking the ball incomplete.
“That series was huge because people have watched us in the past struggle coming out in the second half,” linebacker Chad Greenway said. “We’re getting better at getting the heck off the field as a defense. Terence is a great leader on this team and, as you can see, a great player, too.”
Coach Mike Zimmer has now gotten mileage out of Newman in three different NFL cities.
“That’s what he does; he plays good,” Zimmer said. “He’s consistent. He’s a great competitor, and I’ve said this a lot about my football players, ‘He’s a very good football player, but he’s an even better person.’ ”