Top 10 Most NFL Interceptions of all Time

There is nothing as a tide-changing moment as an interception in the National Football League (NFL) game. It’s a huge momentum shifter and can completely change the whole course of a game.

The move is called interception or “pick” when the opposite team player catches the ball thrown intending for the same team player.

This stunning move of interception has hugely changed numerous games in NFL history, and there’s no shortage of this move in the game.

Xavien Howard, CB
Xavien Howard, CB

However, aren’t you curious about the players who were able to pull off this stunning move? Which players have the record for the most NFL interceptions of all time?

Well, we have made a list of the top 10 most NFL Interceptions of all time for you. This list will provide you information about the players and the number of times they pulled off this momentum-changing move.

Top 10 Most NFL Interceptions of all Time

The players’ names compiled in this list are taken from ESPN.

Player NameInterceptions
1. Paul Krause81
2. Emlen Tunnell79
3. Rod Woodson71
4. Dick Lane68
5. Ken Riley65
6. Charles Woodson65
7. Ed Reed64
8. Ronnie Lott63
9. Darren Sharper63
10. Dave Brown62

1.  Paul Krause

During his 16 season career from 1964 to 1979, Paul Krause is the leading intercepter with 81 interceptions. He became inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.

Krause was named to the All-NFL first team after winning 12 interceptions in the NFL rookie season in 1964. He intercepted two passes in the following 1965 season, his second Pro Bowl.

Paul Krause
Paul Krause

In his first four seasons, he intercepted 28 passes. Then in 1968, he was traded to the Minnesota Vikings. The other memorable interception in Krause’s career includes the one during the Super Bowl IV.

He intercepted passes in 7 consecutive games and near repeated the same feat in 1968 when he blocked in 6 successive games.

Amid his final 1979 campaign, he performed three more interceptions and earned the most NFL interceptions of all time.

He was selected in All-Eastern Conference twice, All-NFC five times, and named All-NFL four times. In his career of 16 seasons, Krause only missed two games with injuries.

2. Emlen Tunnell

Emlen Tunnell was the first African American to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In addition, he was also the first African American to play for the Giants.

Tunnell made his name on defense and was known as the team’s “offense on defense.” However, his record of 79 interceptions in his 14 seasons made him the second most interceptions of all times.

He was the most dangerous punt returner in the league. And he was also the first player with public acclaim as a defensive back.

In his first two seasons, he intercepted 17 passes. Before his retirement, Tunnell had held the record for the most NFL interceptions of 79, which Paul Krause has since broken.

The other records of Tunnell’s include 1282 yards gained on interceptions, 258 punt returns, and 2209 yards gained on punt returns.

During his 14 seasons career, he played for the Giants and the Green Bay Packers. He was selected for nine Pro Bowls and All-NFL four times.

Unfortunately, this Pro Football Hall of Famer (inducted in 1967) died at 51 on July 23, 1975.

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3. Rod Woodson

The modern-day “triple threat” star, Rod Woodson, now age 56, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the 1987 NFL Draft.

In his first season in 1992, Woodson collected six sacks and had 100 tackles. The next season, he had 8 interceptions, 28 passes defended, and 79 solo tackles recorded as a team-high.

He also had 2 forced fumbles, 2 quarterback sacks during that season, and he blocked a field goal attempt. Woodson became NFL Defensive Player of the year for his phenomenal performance.

While in his career, Woodson’s records include interception return yards of 1483, punt return yards of 2362, and 17 touchdowns.

Woodson had 17 NFL seasons career where he holds the record for 71 interceptions. This makes him rank third among the list of the most NFL interceptions of all time. In 2009, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

4. Dick Lane

Nicknamed the “Night Train,” Richard Dick” Lane had a 14 seasons NFL career. Lane was an army veteran before, in 1952, he asked for a tryout in the offices of the Los Angeles Rams.

Lane had a large build, and he gained a reputation as a ferocious open-field tackler. However, he set an NFL interception record in his rookie year by intercepting 14 passes in the 12 game season.

Night-Train-Lane-1997
Dick “Night Train” Lane in 1997 (Source: Wikimedia.org)

Again in his first season in Chicago, he intercepted 10 passes leading the NFL in an interception and earned his first of seven career Pro Bowl honors.

From 1954 o 1963, Lane became the first or second-team All-NFL every year. He gained the popularity widely for being a gambler on the field.

In 1974, Lane became the Pro Football Hall of Famer. Lane had intercepted 68 passes for 1207 yards in his legendary career, making him fourth on this list of most NFL interceptions and 5 touchdowns.

5. Ken Riley

Ken Jerome Riley was a cornerback player who spent his entire career with the Cincinnati Bengals. In his career of 15 years, Riley holds the record of 65 interceptions, making him fifth on this list and NFL history. 

Riley had 3 interceptions in seven career playoff games. On top of that, he also had career-high 9 interceptions in 1976, and during his final season in 1983, he recorded 8 interceptions.

In the 1970s, he became second-team All-NFL by Pro Football Reference and first-team All-Pro in 1983.

Riley holds the record for Cincinnati Bengals in games played, interceptions, interception return yards, and interception returns for touchdowns. In addition, he comes second in defensive fumble recoveries.

But even with all this achievement, Riley never made a Pro Bowl. So despite having a Hall of Fame career, this Bengals legend was never inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Sadly, he passed away at age 72 in Tallahassee, Florida.

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6. Charles Woodson

Charles Woodson stepped into the Oakland Raiders’ starting lineup after being the fourth overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft.

He earned the AP Rookie of the Year Award after playing in all 16 games, where he intercepted 5 passes and forced 2 fumbles.

Woodson played regular-season games with the Raiders and Green Bay Packers during his 18 years career as a football player. He recorded at least one interception every season he played and nearly tied with Darrell Green’s record of 19 seasons in a row.

Charles_Woodson_playing_against_Vikings
Charles Woodson playing against the Vikings (Source: Wikimedia.org)

In 2009 he received AP Defensive Player of the Year honors for returning 3 interceptions for touchdowns. He returned 11 interceptions for touchdowns in his career.

In 2014, he became the first player in NFL history to acquire 50 interceptions and 20 sacks. In addition, he has records of 1200 tackles, 54 tackles for loss, 33 forced fumbles, and 183 passes defended.

Woodson is the only two-player, the other being Hall of Famer Marcus Allen, to have won the AP Rookie of the Year Award and AP Player of the Year Award. And also the Heisman Trophy and a Super Bowl.

Charles was recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021.

7. Ed Reed

Ed Reed was drafted in the first round, 24th overall of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens.

Reed started in all 16 games during his rookie season and was an important player of the Raven’s defense. After 11 seasons with the Ravens, he played 7 games with the Houston Texans before finishing with the New York Jets.

He holds the record of 64 interceptions in his entire career, which makes him seventh on the list of most NFL interceptions of all time. He still holds several records for Ravens, including 61 interceptions and most interceptions in a season 9.

His records also top the NFL’s record in an interception return yard and the two longest interception returns of 107 and 106. His other records include 7 touchdowns, 6 recorded sacks, and 13 fumble recoveries.

Reed is a nine-time Pro Bowler and six-times named as All-Pro. He also became the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2000s. After that, in 2004, he became the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

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8. Ronnie Lott

In NFL history, Ronnie Lott is regarded as one of the hardest hitters. In his 14 years football career, he played for the 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders, and the New York Jets.

Lott was the eighth selection of the 1981 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. In his first NFL season, he led a young secondary to the 49ers’ victory in Super Bowl XVI.

He became the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams because of his contribution in his first year in the league.

Ronnie Lott on field playing for the 49ers
Ronnie Lott on the field playing for the 49ers.

Lott played 14 games at the free safety position in 1986. However, he was injured before finishing his final two games. Despite his injury, he led the team with a career-most 10 interceptions, 77 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 quarterback sacks.

In 1993, he managed to surpass the 1000 career tackle mark and on his ten seasons with the 49ers.

Lott holds the record of 63 interceptions in his career, which makes him eighth on this list of most NFL interceptions of all time. He also led the league twice. In 2000, he was inducted into the Pro Football of Fame.

9. Darren Sharper

The former NFL player, Darren Mallory Sharper was drafted in the second round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers.

In the past two decades, Sharper was one of the best free safeties. In his career, he became All-Pro six-time and Pro Bowler five times. Furthermore, he was also an interceptions leader two times and a Super Bowl Champion.

In the Super Bowl of 2009, Sharper had 9 interceptions while playing against the New Orleans Saints. He also broke the record with 376 for interception yards.

Sharper has a record for 63 interceptions, tying him with Ronnie Lott. His other records include 972 tackles, 13 TD, and 7.5 sacks.

He was an outstanding player and had many records in his name. But his career has since fallen from grace with many controversies and legal charges. Consequently, he is not inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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10. Dave Brown

Dave Brown started his professional football career when he became a first-round draft pick by Pittsburgh Steelers in 1975.

While in his rookie season with the Steelers, Brown was able to grab the Super Bowl ring. Then in 1976, he was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the expansion draft.

Brown moved into the starting lineup at safety in that season and led the team with 111 tackles and 4 interceptions.

Brown became All-Big Ten selection three times and All-American two times while playing for three seasons at Michigan.

After that, this also made him an elite defender entering NFL. He matched that level for the next 15 seasons of his career. It was in 1984; Brown intercepted a career-high eight passes. Yet, in his career as a player, he only went to one Pro Bowl.

Like Ken Riley, Brown also never has been Pro Football Hall of Famer. Sadly, Brown passed away at the age of 52 with a heart attack in 2006.

Conclusion

There’s nothing like this stunning interception move to change the whole game course. These players have time and again performed these moves effortlessly to bring their team closer to victory.

Nevertheless, how effortless they might look, these players’ interception records cannot be toppled by any players anytime soon.

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