The Washington Redskins-Dallas Cowboys rivalry is one that already carried significant weight for Redskins outside linebacker Jackson Jeffcoat.
On Sunday afternoon, however, the rookie's first experience playing in the rivalry game is one that he'll never forget, as the Texas product recorded his first-career interception.
"It was nice just to go out there and make a play," Jeffcoat said. "This is my first career start, and to be able to get an interception is big. That's awesome, especially against the Cowboys."
Check out the top photos from the Washington Redskins' Week 17 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, at FedExField in Landover, Md.
Jeffcoat made an immediate impact last week against the Philadelphia, as well. Filling in for an injured Trent Murphy, Jeffcoat notched his first-career sack.
On Sunday against the Cowboys -- the team his father, Jim Jeffcoat, had played 12 seasons for, recording 94.5 sacks as a defensive end during that time -- the young linebacker was given his first career start and was happy to take advantage of the opportunity.
Along with three total tackles and a pass deflection, Jeffcoat recorded the Redskins only takeaway on the day, setting up the offense with excellent field position inside the Cowboys' red zone.
With a fresh set of downs at their own 18-yard line, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo dropped back to pass. While his intended target was running back Julius Randle, Jeffcoat dropped back into coverage and plucked the touch pass out of the air.
"He played it like a run and the offensive lineman came up to block," he said afterward. "I saw he was staying back and not trying to drive me off the ball. Then I saw the running back back there, turned and sprinted to him. I just turned around, put my hand up, saw the ball right there and caught it."
After making the over-the-shoulder catch, Jeffcoat turned towards the end zone 18-yards away and was thinking touchdown. Although he didn't quite make it to pay dirt -- he was tackled at the 16 --Jeffcoat said he was happy to give his team the football deep in Dallas territory.
"I tried to break that tackle and sping out to the endzone," he said. "I was just happy I caught that and set us up."
For Jeffcoat, the play caps off a season that has seen him grow immensely. Originally signed to the Redskins' practice squad in early September, he was called up to the active roster from Weeks 6-9 before being sent back down.
Activated for the final two weeks of the season, Jeffcoat said that he turned to his parents for encouragement, adding that they told him to keep the faith that he would get another opportunity.
After biding his time and being patient, he said that it only makes things sweeter.
"It's a blessing," he said. "It's very rewarding. I'm excited that I was able to come back and bounce back. My parents just kept telling my keep the faith in the Lord and keep on pushing, and that's what I did."
At the young age of 23, Jeffcoat is just beginning his career in the NFL. As he heads into his first NFL offseason, he hopes to continue working with the coaches and building off of his strong finish to his rookie year.
"Coach [Brian] Baker and Coach [Jim] Haslett have really helped me grow at the outside linebacker position and really grasp it," he said. "There's still a lot more football to be played next season and I just can't ride on this. I got to get back to work and get ready for the next season."