Tony Jefferson seals an Arizona Cardinals’ win with a big play
GLENDALE, Ariz. — For a few moments Monday night, it looked like Arizona Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson might be a player disgruntled fans would point a finger of blame toward.
After all, the third-year safety had been beaten twice on the Baltimore Ravens’ last (and potentially game-tying) drive for completions. The first one was a nine-yard pass from Joe Flacco to tight end Crockett Gillmore on a fourth-and-1.
Four plays later, Flacco and Gillmore hooked up again at Jefferson’s expense on a 23-yard completion that gave the Ravens a first-and-goal at the Cards’ four-yard line.
Jefferson would redeem himself. On second-and-goal from the nine-yard line following a Baltimore penalty, rookie linebacker Markus Golden pressured Flacco on a blitz and the veteran quarterback lofted the ball into the end zone toward Gillmore.
Due to the pressure, however, Flacco sailed the ball over the 6-foot-6 tight end’s head and Jefferson made a tremendous over-the-shoulder catch and slid down in bounds for the game-clinching interception in a 26-18 Monday Night Football win.
“He had caught two passes on me already, of course they’re going to go back at me,” Jefferson said after the game. “So I knew the ball was coming to me. So I tried to play at the goal line and he threw it up for him and I caught it.”
Jefferson’s pick was the second of his career. His first was a 26-yard return for a touchdown in a Week 2 win over the Chicago Bears. But this one was bigger.
“I knew the ball was coming to us — me and him,” Jefferson said. “I knew one of us was going to make a play and I already gave up the big pass, so there was no way I was going to let him catch that one.”
Flacco, who threw the pick, explained the play from his viewpoint.
“I was looking to throw the ball to Crockett there,” he said. “With the matchup, I thought he might get on top of the guy, but it just worked out a little bit different. So, (Jefferson) ended up in a better position.
“I thought we had the matchup on the all-out blitz and he was a big guy on a little guy, so I gave it a chance.”