CB Patrick Peterson came to the Pittsburgh Steelers with lofty expectations for himself, saying back in July that he could set a new career-high in interceptions at the age of 33. He even went so far as to indicate he wanted to hit double digits, having never even topped seven before.
Well, right now he is on pace to give up double-digit touchdowns instead, but he did secure his first interception of the season on Sunday night against the Las Vegas Raiders. It was a bad throw under duress by QB Jimmy Garoppolo and something of a gift, admittedly, coming in the middle of the third quarter, but it was also a significant want.
His first of the year, which puts him one behind Jessie Bates III for the most since the start of the 2022 season, also broke a tie with his former teammate, Minnesota Vikings S Harrison Smith, for the most career interceptions among active players, now with 35.
Both he and Smith had renaissance years last season in Minnesota, picking off five passes apiece, the second-most in Peterson’s career and tied for a career-high for Smith (though he’s done it four times). The latter is still looking for his first in 2023, however, and so is sitting at 34.
There are currently five active players with 30 or more interceptions, but Smith is the only one within three of Peterson. Tied for third place is former Baltimore Ravens CB Marcus Peters, now with the Las Vegas Raiders, who had an opportunity for 33 against the Steelers on Sunday night. He dropped what likely would have been a pick-six.
The San Francisco 49ers’ Tashaun Gipson, who also had an opportunity to intercept Steelers QB Kenny Pickett in the season opener but failed to do so, shares third place with Peters. He also had five interceptions a year ago but is still waiting on his first this year at 33.
As for Peterson, he has said this offseason that he wants to become one of the rare players in this day and age to be able to reach 50 career interceptions. Nobody has reached that mark in the past decade, the most recent player being Asante Samuel, who recorded his 50th in 2012 and finished his career with 51. Champ Baily, Charles Woodson, Ed Reed, and Darren Sharper are the only other players who have played since 2010 to hit the mark.
Under even the most conservative estimates, Peterson would have to play at least three more seasons, including this current one, to have a reasonable chance of hitting 50. And that would take matching his own career-best marks—remember, he has only hit five or more twice, and has had three or fewer in every other season.
But for now, and for I believe the first time in his career, there is not a single active player in the National Football League who has picked off more passes than he has.