GLENDALE, Ariz. – The chances had been there both before and during Sunday's game against the Cardinals, but for reasons in and out of Rams rookie safety Taylor Rapp's control, that first career interception remained elusive.
Until early in the third quarter.
With a 31-yard pick six off Arizona QB Kyler Murray in Los Angeles' 34-7 road victory, Rapp was finally able to check off the career milestone.
"The first one, I was so mad at myself, and the game back in London (against the Bengals), too, I dropped another sure (interception), so I was super mad at myself," Rapp said. "I was thinking about that one all the way up until I got the one that actually counted, so I was happy I could get one under my belt."
Indeed, opportunity would knock three times for Rapp against the Cardinals before he got his first interception.
His earliest shot at it came with just over six minutes remaining in the first half. Murray dropped back to pass and looked over the middle, appearing to initially look for WR Christian Kirk. With Kirk covered by Rams CB Jalen Ramsey, Murray went for RB Kenyan Drake, who ran a wheel route out of the backfield. Rapp read Murray's eyes and jumped the pass but couldn't haul it in, settling for a pass breakup instead.
The Rams' secondary was quick to encourage him, as both Ramsey and CB Nickell Robey-Coleman patted him on the helmet after the play was over.
"We kept telling him it was going to come back to him," Ramsey said. "The first one slipped out of his hands – probably wasn’t expecting it."
Sure enough, the ball would find Rapp again – twice, in fact, in the same period.
Less than 90 seconds into the third quarter, Rapp seemed to find redemption for his missed opportunity. The Cardinals' field position was almost identical to that late second quarter drive, only this time Murray appeared to look down the middle the entire way. His pass deflected off WR Larry Fitzgerald's hands and into Rapp's, but the play was wiped out after Arizona successfully challenged for defensive pass interference against Robey-Coleman.
Nearly five minutes later, Rapp finally hit paydirt, getting in front of another Murray pass intended for Fitzgerald and taking it to the house.
"I was able to read his eyes, and able to capitalize on it," Rapp said.
"It was great for him to be able to make that play," Rams head coach Sean McVay said. "I was trying to give him a game ball. He was probably doing an interview and was late to get into the locker room."
After safety John Johnson III landed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury in Week 6, Rapp moved into a starting role in Week 7. In the six games since, he's collected 42 of his 73 total tackles on the season, plus five of his seven pass breakups.
The one key stat missing through those first five starts, though, was the same one his teammates have been giving him a hard time about for the last several weeks due to the number of opportunities he had.
Rams QB Jared Goff said Rapp was due to make the play.
"His first one was a pick-six," Goff said. "Pretty good."