Deatrich Wise was asked Monday whether his fourth-quarter touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders was the first he’d ever scored.
His mile-wide smile gave his answer away.
“This is my first-ever touchdown,” the New England Patriots defensive end said, beaming. “Yeah. In any level of game.”
Wise’s score, which put the finishing touches on Sunday’s 36-20 Patriots victory at Gillette Stadium, came after teammate Shilique Calhoun punched the ball out of quarterback Derek Carr’s hands in the end zone.
With the play seared into his mind, Wise was more than happy to provide an extremely detailed recap during his Monday afternoon video conference call.
“With call echoed in, the linebacker gave us the call,” Wise said, setting the scene. “After that, I looked at Shilique and told Shilique, ‘Hey, let’s run a game.’ He nodded. As we put our hands down on the ground, we both could hear the heartbeats thumping, knowing that this was a big moment. As the ball was snapped, we proceed to follow the stunt. And next thing I know, Shilique and I are both at the quarterback at the same time. Chase (Winovich) is pulling his guy, and so was Adam (Butler). And the way that we all enclosed the pocket, and Shilique and I just came together and hit the quarterback. … And then the rest, everybody else knows.”
The play initially was ruled a sack and a safety split between Wise and Calhoun. But a video review revealed Calhoun had dislodged the ball before Carr hit the turf — and knocked it right into Wise’s waiting right arm.
Patriots players quickly realized the call would be reversed, sparking a euphoric celebration on the New England sideline.
“I knew immediately it was a touchdown because as Shilique and I were tackling him, I saw the ball come out,” said Wise, who came sprinting out of the pile with the football. “And I grabbed the ball as the ball was coming out and he was hitting the ground. I picked it up, and my first thing was to just prove that I had the ball.
“I wanted to prove to everybody that I had the ball in my hand. I was like, ‘This is a touchdown. Touchdown.’ I kept saying touchdown. And then we all just started celebrating.”
Wise described the celebration, which featured a large group of defensive players, plus quarterbacks Cam Newton and Brian Hoyer, as “pure excitement.” Team captains Devin and Jason McCourty eventually had to intervene to break up the sideline mosh pit that had formed around the fourth-year pro.
“Genuine love,” Wise said. “That’s what that was. And we all just were happy. That was a touchdown, and we all celebrated as we know how — together.”
Beyond that one play, Wise has been one of the Patriots’ most improved players through three games this season. The weight and strength he added during the offseason have helped him hold up better in the run game and utilize more powerful pass-rush moves.
Wise showcased the latter on Las Vegas’ first possession Sunday, driving left tackle Kolton Miller directly into Carr to help force a third-down incompletion.
“I think his run defense has improved, and he’s given us a lot of solid play there,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday. “Of course, we know he can rush the passer, but he’s done a good job of mixing in edge moves and rush techniques with some power and some more power-type rushes — long arms, things like that. So he’s got a good compliment and a good repertoire there where he’s got three or four different pitches he can throw. But I think the big thing that he’s really worked hard on and improved is his run defense.
“So, when you combine all that, he’s given us three real good weeks of play here.”
Wise said he kept the ball from his touchdown and plans to proudly display it on his mantel.