Jackson’s second time in the playoffs didn’t start great either. The presumptive NFL MVP threw an interception on his first drive, though that wasn’t all his fault. His pass to Mark Andrews, which was a little high, went off his tight end’s hands and deflected to Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard for an interception.
Deflected interceptions happen all the time, but you don’t often see a quarterback get a personal foul on the tackle.
At the end of the long return, Jackson grabbed Byard up high and flung him to the ground a couple steps out of bounds, and a flag came out. Considering how quarterbacks get protected when they’re anywhere near the sideline, it was fairly ironic. In fact, the Ravens got a personal foul penalty for hitting Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill after he barely stepped out of bounds on the drive after Byard’s pick.
The foul was that Jackson had grabbed underneath the back of Byard’s helmet, though replays didn’t seem to show that. CBS officiating expert Gene Steratore disagreed with the call.
“I don’t think it’s a foul, he was up high underneath, but [referee] Bill Vinovich did announce he grabbed the opening of the helmet,” Steratore said. “I think Jackson’s arm gets underneath but I don’t see him grasping the actual helmet.”
After the interception return and extra 15 yards for the penalty, the Titans took the short field and scored the first points of the game on a fantastic touchdown grab by tight end Jonnu Smith.
The way Jackson slung Byard to the ground indicated some frustration, which was understandable. Last season Jackson had a horrible start to a playoff game against the Los Angeles Chargers. He has improved tremendously since then, but his early interception was a bad callback to his first playoff experience.
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