Coleman's career day earns him special honor
Kurt Coleman earned a seat on the bench after allowing a short catch to become a long touchdown by missing a tackle twice on the same play.
The second-year safety didn't whiff on his second chance to start.
Coleman had three interceptions to help the Philadelphia Eagles to a 20-13 victory at Washington on Sunday. His performance earned him NFC defensive player of the week honors.
''I thank the Lord that I was able to make the plays, but my goal is to have three interceptions every game,'' Coleman said after the underachieving Eagles (2-4) snapped a four-game losing streak.
''I want to continue to build on that. This team needs to build on this and continue to get better and better. We will take this one game at a time. We know we have a long road to go but if we continue to play like we did, things will start rolling our way.''
Coleman became the 11th player in club history to have three interceptions in a game and the first since 1966. He also had six tackles, helping the Eagles shut down the run for the first time this season.
''We realized that we were 30th in league in stopping the run and everybody put an emphasis on doing their part, stopping the run and making plays,'' Coleman said. ''I did spend more time in the film room because it needed to be right. And we needed to put in the extra work.''
Coleman, a seventh-round pick out of Ohio State, earned a roster spot last year after returning two fumbles for touchdowns in the final preseason game. He started two games in his rookie season and intercepted his first pass against former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb during Philadelphia's 59-28 win at Washington on Nov. 15.
He began this season as the starting free safety while Nate Allen recovered from a knee injury. But Coleman was banished to the sidelines after New York's Victor Cruz caught a 74-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning in the first quarter of the Giants' 29-16 win in Philadelphia in Week 3.
On that play, Coleman missed tackling Cruz after an 8-yard gain. He recovered to chase Cruz only to collide with teammate Nnamdi Asomugha, allowing Cruz to sprint the final 46 yards untouched into the end zone.
Fox analyst Darryl Johnston was highly critical of Coleman after the miscue.
''I really don't know what Kurt Coleman is thinking on that play. It was such a bad attempt at a tackle,'' Johnston said during the telecast.
Coleman was bummed about getting benched, but he didn't sulk.
''It is tough,'' Coleman said. ''I'm a competitor and I know what I'm capable of doing out there, but the first three games I wasn't getting it done and that was apparent. And I think it was a humbling experience. God taught me a lesson and I just worked my butt off the last couple weeks, so now I have the opportunity to make the best of it.''
Coleman returned to the lineup when strong safety Jarrad Page sustained a stinger two weeks ago. He made certain he's going to stay on the field for a while with a career effort in a game Philadelphia had to win.
Coleman's first interception of Rex Grossman occurred on a deep pass at the Eagles 3 on Washington's opening drive. His second pick came midway through the third quarter with the Redskins inside the red zone. Coleman stepped in front of the intended receiver and snatched the ball away at the Eagles 5 before returning it 24 yards. His last interception on another deep pass to the Eagles 30 sent Grossman to the bench.
''I'm really excited about Kurt because he got demoted about missing a tackle, and that is tough,'' defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said. ''But the thing he understands is that it is special to be a starter in the NFL, and he is enjoying it and taking advantage of the opportunity again.''
Coleman has overcome plenty of adversity to reach this point. He nearly quit football five years ago when his tackle of Tyson Gentry in a spring practice left his Buckeyes teammate paralyzed.
''I don't think I would've played again, but Tyson and his family were so supportive,'' Coleman said. ''They told me it wasn't my fault, that it was an accident and part of the game. That meant so much.''
Later that fall, Coleman's father, Ron, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ron Coleman held off chemotherapy treatments so he could attend Ohio State's national championship game against Florida.
''He never missed a day of school or practice while teaching physical education and coaching basketball,'' Coleman said. ''He's an inspirational guy.''