Jenkins just short on long pass

Tennessee cornerback burned by Ismail on 77-yard scoring play

October 08, 2001|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Sitting in the locker room after yesterday's 26-7 loss to the Ravens, Tennessee Titans cornerback DeRon Jenkins placed his feet together, with one a couple of inches in front of the other.

"Half a step, that's all it was," Jenkins said as he described the space between himself and Ravens receiver Qadry Ismail on a 77-yard scoring pass in the second quarter.

"He basically just took off, ran a goal-out. I was there, but when I turned and looked for the ball, I stumbled a little bit. It's a game of inches, and that's all that it was."

The play took about seven seconds, giving the Ravens a 14-0 lead with 10:05 left in the first half. It developed on second-and-10 at the Ravens' 23. With Jenkins right on his heels, Ismail beat the cornerback for an over-the-shoulder catch along the Tennessee sideline.

Jenkins clung to Ismail, but was shaken off, sliding from his torso to his legs and to the ground, and Ismail went the remaining 35 yards for the score.

"Great concentration, great catch," said Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher. "DeRon's got to find the ball."

With All-Pro cornerback Samari Rolle, who tied for the AFC lead last season with seven interceptions, on the other side, the Ravens' early target was Jenkins. He was burned with Elvis Grbac's first pass - a 9-yard quick out to Ismail.

"I don't feel that I was challenged more today than anyone who is challenged at cornerback," said Jenkins, a sixth-year cornerback who was a Raven from 1996 through 1999, before going to San Diego last season and now Tennessee.

Jenkins finished with four tackles and defended two passes. He said he was more prepared on a similar matchup with Ismail late in the third period, when he stepped up to foil virtually the same play. That time, Jenkins was in position to tip the ball away.

"They had that one long pass on me," Jenkins said, "but I defended the other times they tried to come back again. The second time, I didn't stumble."

But the lasting image of Jenkins from yesterday's game is of the cornerback on the ground while Ismail runs unhindered, turning and staring back at Jenkins while backpedaling the final 5 yards into the end zone.

"That's kind of the life of an NFL cornerback," Jenkins said. "You can have 50 great plays and one bad one, and everybody remembers the bad one."

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