Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett dedicated his crucial pick-six in a 27-17 win against the Chicago Bears on Sunday to his late two-year-old daughter.
With 2:12 left on the clock and Tampa Bay holding a narrow 20-17 lead, Bears quarterback Justin Fields dropped back into the end zone to pass but was picked off by Barrett at their own four-yard line. Fighting through tackles and assisted by his teammates, he bundled the ball home to seal the game for the Bucs. It was the 30-year-old’s second career interception and his first ever touchdown.
Barrett’s daughter, Arrayah, tragically passed away in April this year after drowning in a swimming pool.
The nine-year NFL veteran spent the offseason dealing with grief, which was compounded by his battle to return to the field after tearing his Achilles tendon in October of last year.
Barrett blew a kiss to the sky after scoring and discussed the touching moment with the media after the game.
Wearing a heart-shaped necklace with his late daughter’s picture on it, he said: “I always play for my family already, but then having that extra incentive and making me want to go a little harder for her … at least, I’m able to shine a little spotlight on her a little bit.
“Camera was on me after I made the play, I told her, ‘I love you, miss you and wish you were here.’”
Barrett also spoke about struggles with his loss, explaining the rush of pain that he experienced before the season-opener against the Minnesota Vikings and credited his faith and the support of others for helping him focus on his football.
“I was struggling real bad. I couldn’t stop crying,” he told reporters. “Called my wife, the coaches checked in on me. But then out of the blue, everything just went away and I was able to focus on the game.
“My wife says people pray for me, so I actually felt like the wave of emotions just slide to the side and I was able to actually able to focus. So I was able to feel the power of prayer.”
The linebacker believes that “divine intervention” aided him in that vital moment on Sunday afternoon.
“He’s setting us up for something that we need, and I’m just ready for it and I’m waiting for it, and I’m going to believe in Him and believe in this plan for sure. And I do feel like it was divine intervention to be able to just get that spotlight for my baby girl.”
Barrett, a Super Bowl winner with the Denver Broncos in 2015 and the Bucs in 2021, was showered with praise after the game by head coach Todd Bowles.
“It’s unbelievable. You can’t even fathom going through something like that,” the 59-year-old said. “To see him go through it and come out on the other side – and I’m sure he still has days – but to play like he’s playing right now, to be where he is right now is unbelievable.”
Fellow Buccaneers linebacker Anthony Nelson also detailed his admiration for Barrett.
“He’s a special dude. It’s amazing. He’s stayed strong in his faith. That’s one of the things I admire about him the most,” he said. “He’s a positive person, he believes in himself … and he’s a hard worker.”
Barrett’s family were in attendance as Tampa Bay improved to 2-0 and saw him pick up a sack and two tackles to go alongside his memorable pick-six.
“I couldn’t be denied,” said Barrett, going over his game-clinching touchdown. “My teammates came to rally behind me and help me get into the end zone. It was just a great way to end the game. The offense did it for us last time, and it was our time to return the favor.”
Barrett and Bucs now turn their attention to the 2-0 Philadelphia Eagles, who they face next week during Monday Night Football.