In 2002 when the NFL added their 32nd team of the Houston Texans, the current divisional lineups were set with each conference having four divisions of four teams. For the AFC North, the grouping of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, and Cleveland Browns was born. In the 21 seasons of the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers have won the division nine times with the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals each winning six times.
But since the formation of the AFC North, which player has had the most interceptions?
Earlier I posed the question about the 10 quarterbacks with the most wins in the AFC North as well as the players with the most rushing yards and receiving yards.
Just to clarify, these statistics are from regular season games with a player on one of the AFC North teams against any opponent. Players who were on multiple AFC North teams had their combined interceptions (hopefully I caught them all).
Here are the 10 players (actually 11 due to a tie for 10th) in order:
1. Ed Reed, BAL (11 seasons): 61
2. Troy Polamalu, PIT (12 seasons): 32
3. Joe Haden, CLE/PIT (12 seasons): 29
4. Leon Hall, CIN (9 seasons): 26
5. Reggie Nelson, CIN (6 seasons): 23
6. Tory James, CIN (4 seasons): 21
t-7. Ray Lewis, BAL (11 seasons): 19
t-7. Deshea Townsend, PIT (8 seasons): 19
9. Minkah Fitzpatrick, PIT (4 seasons): 17
t-10. Deltha O’Neal, CIN (4 seasons): 16
t-10. Chris McAlister, BAL (7 seasons): 16
One of the biggest reasons Ed Reed is in the Hall of Fame is due to his 61 interceptions with the Ravens plus another three in his final season while with the Jets. Even though he played for the hated Ravens, it’s undeniable how Reed had a knack for pulling in interceptions as he led the NFL in three different years.
With another gold jacket at the top of the list, Troy Polamalu pulled in 32 regular season interceptions in his time in Pittsburgh. Not far behind is Cleveland’s only representation on the list with Joe Haden having 19 interceptions in seven years in Cleveland with another 10 interceptions with his five years in Pittsburgh.
The next three names on the list all come from the Cincinnati Bengals with the third name of Tory James being quite impressive by pulling in 21 interceptions and only four seasons from 2003 through 2006.
The tie for seventh place between Ray Lewis and Deshea Townsend came with two players who started with their teams before the formation of the AFC North so they had more interceptions. Minkah Fitzpatrick is the only player on the list who still plays in the AFC North as he has 17 interceptions in only four seasons in Pittsburgh.
Deltha O’Neal was the fourth member of the Bengals on the list from where he spent four seasons in Cincinnati in the middle of his career from 2004 through 2007 and led the NFL in interceptions with 10 in 2005. O’Neal was tied with Chris McAllister of the Ravens.
So how many players on this list would you have been able to name? Are there any surprises or someone you possibly would not have remembered? Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below.