Justin Bethel envisioned his defensive touchdown before the play began

Sep 28, 2015, 7:47 PM | Updated: 8:27 pm

...

LISTEN: Justin Bethel, Cardinals cornerback

Arizona Cardinals defensive back Justin Bethel is known around the NFL as being a special teams ace, not as a defensive player.

The four-year veteran is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances as a special teams player and has previously won a NFC Special Teams Player of the Week and Month award for the team in 2014.

Last year, Bethel was a beast on the special teams unit, recording 18 tackles, blocking a field goal and forcing a fumble on a punt return.

The one thing he has yet to do during his career is become a player to be reckon with at the position he is listed as in the media guide, a cornerback. That all changed on Sunday when Bethel picked off Colin Kaepernick on his first defensive snap of the season, returning the interception for the first score in the Cardinals 47-7 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Bethel was very excited about the moment and talked about the play on the Burns & Gambo show of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Monday afternoon.

“That’s a great way to start it off, coming out and getting a pick-six is a way to be out there more often,” he said.

The sixth-round pick out of Presbyterian had an awakening before the play, visually seeing himself in the end zone before Kaepernick ever snapped the ball.

He credits his preparedness to paying attention in practice and trusting his instincts.

“I got the same exact play during practice and had a great break on it during practice,” Bethel said. “I was thinking when (Vernon Davis) was lined up outside, he was doing a lot of out-routes, so I kind of knew it was coming.

“Before the play was even hiked, I had a vision of the play and picking it and saw everything happening before it even happened. It was crazy.”

Bethel’s interception set the tone for a career-day from the Cardinals defense, which forced four Kaepernick interceptions, caused a safety and sacked the quarterback two times. In fact, the only time the 49ers even crossed midfield was when they got a big punt return from Jarryd Hayne that led to the Niners lone score.

The defense picked up on San Francisco’s game plan early on with Kaepernick behind the helm at quarterback and Bethel credits the defensive line as the key to the defense’s big performance.

“We got great pressure up front that it made him force his throws and make decisions quicker than he wanted to,” Bethel said. “There was nothing complex going on. Not a lot of motions or anything like that, so it was something that we were picking up on.”

 

Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) runs back an interception as San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde (28) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson is hit by San Francisco 49ers free safety Eric Reid (35) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Markus Golden (44) celebrates his sack of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) The San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals are separated by the referees during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde (28) is tackled in the end zone for a safety by Arizona Cardinals strong safety Deone Bucannon (20) and Kevin Minter, bottom, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde (28) is hit by Arizona Cardinals strong safety Deone Bucannon (20) and Calais Campbell during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd (15) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers cornerback Kenneth Acker during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) San Francisco 49ers fans react during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell (93) signals safety during the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) 
              San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
            Arizona Cardinals cornerback Jerraud Powers (25) intercepts a pass intended for Torrey Smith (82) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals tight end Jermaine Gresham (84) is hit by San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53)  during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson (23) celebrates a run against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) celebrates his touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) scores a touchdown as San Francisco 49ers strong safety Jaquiski Tartt (29) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson (23) celebrates his touchdown run against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) celebrates his second interception of the game against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) scores a running touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd (15) makes a catch as San Francisco 49ers strong safety Antoine Bethea (41) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) runs after the catch as San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite (57) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson (23) scores as San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite (57) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd (15) can't make stye catch as San Francisco 49ers cornerback Kenneth Acker (20) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver John Brown (12) can't make the catch as San Francisco 49ers cornerback Kenneth Acker (20) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) intercepts a pass for a touchdown as San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin (81) misses the catch during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws under pressure from San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (55) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson (23) scores a touchdown as San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite (57) blocked by Cardinals' Ted Larsen, left, during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson (23) celebrates his touchdown run against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel (28) celebrates his interception for a touchdown with Tyrann Mathieu (32) and Calais Campbell (93) against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals fans cheer during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde (28) runs against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) San Francisco 49ers fans cheer during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game against the, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel (28) runs back an interception for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game against the, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel (28) runs back an interception for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game against the, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game against the, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu crosses the goal line after an interception for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game against the, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) celebrates his interception for a touchdown with teammates against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game against the, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) takes the field with Blaine Gabbert (2) prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Matt York)

Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals warms up prior to his game against the Philadelphia Eagles...

Tom Kuebel

Bleacher Report: Cardinals’ Kyler Murray is NFL’s most overrated QB

Bleacher Report's Gary Davenport ranks Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray as the most overrated player at his position in the NFL.

10 hours ago

Monti Ossenfort...

Arizona Sports

Barnwell: Arizona Cardinals 12th-most improved team this offseason

In ESPN analyst Bill Barnwell's eyes, the Cardinals are among those who have used the offseason to their advantage.

2 days ago

Budda Baker #3 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during the second quarter against the Carolina Pan...

Wills Rice

ESPN’s Bowen: Best potential landing spots for Budda Baker, DeAndre Hopkins

ESPN's Matt Bowen gave the best potential landing spots for both wideout DeAndre Hopkins and Cardinals safety Budda Baker.

1 day ago

James Conner...

Tyler Drake

No complaints: Cardinals’ James Conner excited to ‘prove people wrong’ with new regime

While outside expectations are some of the lowest they have been in Cardinals history, RB James Conner isn't focused on the external noise.

1 day ago

Kyler Murray...

Arizona Sports

Simms: Cardinals’ Kyler Murray in ‘clock’s ticking’ tier of NFL quarterbacks

After going down with a season-ending knee injury, can Kyler Murray return to form and be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL?

2 days ago

DeAndre Hopkins...

Tyler Drake

Gannon: WR DeAndre Hopkins’ release best thing for Cardinals

No matter how it all shook out, the Arizona Cardinals parting ways with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins this offseason was expected.

2 days ago

Justin Bethel envisioned his defensive touchdown before the play began