Smith, who is known as a very capable scrambler, was forced out of the pocket and ran along the sideline, stepping out of bounds short of the first down marker with Jernigan giving chase. The play should have ended the Chiefs’ opening drive.
Of course, that’s not how it happened.
Jernigan shoved Smith well after he had left the field of play, resulting in a costly unnecessary roughness penalty that extended the Chiefs drive – a drive that would end in a Charcandrick West 38-yard touchdown run just three plays later.
“Obviously, he pulled up along the sideline, and when they called the penalty, it was noticeable, but if he’s going to run along the sideline, I’m going to hit him every time,” Jernigan said. “I’m not going to apologize for that one any time. I was running to the ball, and I saw the quarterback running along the sideline. To me it doesn’t look like the guy is noticeably slowing down and running out of bounds. So if you’re along the sideline, I’m going to hit you. I don’t care who you are.
Unless you make it obvious that you’re going out of bounds, because if you’re running along the sideline, and you don’t go out, I’m going to have cameras in my face asking me why I didn’t hit you. And then the quarterback runs for an 80-yard touchdown. So, I feel like I’m just doing what I can to help the team.”
While his words came off as pretty strong at the post-game press conference, especially after we saw head coach John Harbaugh speaking to him following the play, I can’t help but agree with the second-year player out of Florida State.
Far to often this season, not just in Baltimore but around the league, we’ve seen how not finishing a play can hurt a team. Granted, this particular penalty led to points on the board, but Jernigan exhibited what has been lacking of the defensive side of football this season for the Ravens: passion. The player with a fiery personality has been missing all season, ever since the season-ending injury to OLB Terrell Suggs.
“Timmy has been a dominant player for us the last few weeks, and no more so than he was yesterday. He was all over the field,” commented Harbaugh on Monday about how to quell Jernigan’s penalties without him losing his intensity. “He played with a motor that is pretty hard to find in any level of football, and I feel like he’s determined to ramp it up every single week and play even harder. So, he made a play, made a decision on the sideline.
“He didn’t have a good angle to see whether Alex Smith’s foot was down or not. Alex Smith is the type of quarterback that’s going to get every inch he can on the sideline. So, you’ve got to run over there and push him out, or he’ll continue to run right up the sideline. And you have to make a decision there, and I think he’ll be able to do that with experience, that when you get right there, he’s going to put his foot down.
“He’s an experienced quarterback, and so, you get right there, you get close to him, you let him smell your breath, so to speak, and he steps out of bounds; and you don’t hit him. So, that’s something he can learn.”
Jernigan has just three penalties this season; however, all three have been of the 15-yard variety (two unnecessary roughness, one roughing the passer), per nflpenalties.com.
While Jernigan is still wet behind the ears, he seems destined to be an important cog along the Ravens defensive front over the next several seasons. When Jernigan is in pursuit, opposing quarterbacks will have to think twice.
Wouldn’t you trade that presence – one that’s sorely lacking – for a penalty here and there?
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