MINNEAPOLIS — All season long, rookie Trae Waynes stayed mentally sharp in case his number was called.
When the Vikings cornerback was pressed into action Sunday against the Seahawks, he looked like more than a first-year player.
Waynes, who had a key interception and broke up numerous other plays in his first career playoff game, said he made plenty of progress this season.
"Some people might not think that because they see it on the outside," Waynes said. "I learned a lot from these guys … the veterans all helped me throughout this year.
"I felt like each week I got better and better."
Waynes, a first-round pick out of Michigan State, appeared in 15 regular-season games and recorded 20 tackles in 2015.
He stepped in and played most of the second half when veteran cornerback Terence Newman sustained an ankle injury.
The 23-year-old Waynes nabbed his first-career interception with just over 10 minutes left in the third quarter when he corralled a pass that bounced off the hands of Seattle tight end Chase Coffman.
"The ball was tipped and fortunately I was in the vicinity," Waynes said. "I made a play on the ball."
Waynes, who played most of the second half despite missing a few plays due to an arm injury, also broke up a deep pass moments before his pick.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson went deep to Tyler Lockett but Waynes prevented his fellow rookie from making the catch.
"He played great," Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said of Waynes. "Came in and made some plays and had a big interception for us.
"He definitely stayed prepared and was ready to roll. He knew he was one injury away from coming in the game."
Despite playing one of the best games of his career, Waynes and the Vikings are headed home after a bitter 10-9 loss to the Seahawks.
"It's football. There's going to be some crazy games and this was one of them," Waynes said. "You just have to learn from it and keep moving on."
"We were in a position to win the game but it just didn't go that way."