It has become a streak that has defied logic for a rookie that missed almost the entire offseason leading up to his rookie year. But Bills free safety Jairus Byrd continues to pick off passes in pairs.
This past Sunday was no different. Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, who entered the game against Buffalo with a touchdown to interception ratio of almost 4:1 (16:5) saw his numbers flipped before the first quarter was over.
On a 2nd-and-4 play at the Bills 32-yard line during Houston's first possession, Schaub, under pressure, tried to hit tight end Owen Daniels over the middle. The pass was off the mark, unless you were Jairus Byrd.
Byrd, who was a yard or so deeper than Daniels, adjusted to the ball's flight path and picked it off. Though Buffalo's offense did not turn that takeaway into points of their own, it kept a marching Houston offense from getting on the scoreboard early.
Three series later backed up in their own territory Houston was again facing a 2nd-and-4 at their own 25 and Schaub again looked to deliver the ball over the middle. With Daniels lost to a knee injury a couple of series prior, the target was Andre Johnson. Again Byrd pulled the ball away from the Pro Bowl receiver for his second interception of the day.
This time Buffalo's offense converted as Terrell Owens took a reverse 29 yards to the end zone for the Bills only touchdown of the game.
"He's just has great instincts for the ball," said fellow safety Bryan Scott. "When he's back in the middle of the field he's always around the ball so whether it's an overthrown pass or a tipped pass he's just in a position to make a play. You can't teach that. He's just a naturally gifted guy when it comes to that. It's great to see him back there."
For Byrd it was the fourth time in his last five interceptions that his takeaway resulted in a touchdown.
It's the third straight game Byrd has posted two interceptions making him the first rookie and just the second NFL player since 1960 to have three consecutive multi-interceptions games (Dave Baker, SF game 8-10, 1960).
"He's just been sensational on the field," said head coach Dick Jauron. "He's a terrific player. He studies the game and he's very into it and he's skilled. I think our guys have done a nice job of preparing him. But he's clearly got skills that are not ordinary for this level and he's using them."
Counting his interception against the Browns, Byrd now has at least one interception in four straight games, which ties a franchise record. While seven other Bills players have recorded interceptions in four consecutive games, only one of them was also a rookie and he shares the same surname.
Butch Byrd had a streak just as long as Buffalo's new Byrd in the team's first AFL Championship season of 1964. He finished that season with seven interceptions, the same number that Jairus Byrd has already.
Now leading the league in interceptions with seven, Byrd is only one interception away from tying the team's rookie record (8, Archie Matsos, 1960) and is three away from tying the all-time team record for interceptions in a season (10) held by Tom Janik (1967) and Billy Atkin (1961).
Perhaps most important to Byrd however, is the fact that eight games into his NFL career he has already matched the best single season interception total of his father. Gill Byrd, who played his entire career with San Diego had three seasons in which he posted seven interceptions (1988, 1989, 1990).
The younger Byrd however, still has half a season to surpass his father's total and he fully intends to do so.
"Before I even got here my goal was always to be better than him," said Byrd. "Whatever he does I want to break whatever he does. It's competition so that's without being said."
When asked what he is capable of Buffalo's rookie free safety did not choose to utter a number.
"The sky is the limit to me," he said. "I'm never going to put a gauge or a ceiling on what me or anyone else can do. So I'm ready for whatever."