Luke Kuechly delivered arguably the best single-handed defensive performance of the season on Sunday.
In case you missed it, the Panthers’ second-year star linebacker recorded 24 tackles and an interception in the team’s rousing victory over the Saints. The tackles were the most in an NFL game since 2007, when Jets linebacker David Harris notched the same amount.
Kuechly’s teammates were left awestruck at the Herculean effort.
“I mean, 24 tackles in an NFL game? That’s like a created player in ‘Madden,'” free safety Mike Mitchell told The Charlotte Observer. “That’s not supposed to happen.”
While the tackles will grab the headlines, it was Kuechly’s interception of Drew Brees that may have been most impressive. Playing through a biblical-like downpour, Kuechly stepped in front of pass intended for Jimmy Graham, ending New Orleans’ drive and shifting momentum in the crucial divisional tilt.
“I didn’t really see (Brees); I just saw the ball come out,” Kuechly said. “That goes back to the guys up front pushing the pocket, getting in his face, causing some problems in the middle from him.”
After the game, Kuechly remained as modest as ever.
“It’s not me, it’s not Thomas,” Kuechly said of his stats. “It’s the coaches, (defensive coordinator Sean) McDermott, (linebackers coach) Al (Holcomb), it’s the D-line that help us do that.”
Kuechly, who won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors last season, may soon have more accolades coming. He’s the driving force behind the league’s stingiest defense — and perhaps top contender for Defensive Player of the Year.