Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse has been called for offensive pass interference five times this season, most in the NFL, after getting another one Sunday against Tampa Bay.
Seattle receiver Jermaine Kearse was left scratching his head after Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay after being called for what was his fifth offensive pass interference this season in the third quarter — a penalty he wasn’t sure should have been called.
Russell Wilson’s pass to Tyler Lockett was incomplete on the play so the penalty was declined.
But for Kearse, it was another frustrating flag as he was again called for illegally trying to shield a Tampa Bay defender (cornerback Vernon Hargreaves) covering another receiver, a so-called pick play.
Kearse said he is doing nothing different than he has in years past, having through the years often been asked to essentially blocker defenders on pick plays, or rub routes.
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“I’ve been doing the same thing I’ve been doing the whole time,’’ Kearse said. “I don’t know, honestly. I don’t really don’t know. This is the most I have been penalized ever.’’
Carroll said Monday the penalty was “legit” and that Kearse hit the Tampa Bay defender too far off the line of scrimmage (officially, such contact isn’t allowed beyond a yard).
“He’s got to be really strict about it, the calls are really strict there,” Carroll said. “Everybody knows what’s going on on those routes and the officials and all that. He’s got to be really good. He was downfield just a yard farther than he can be and making contact. You can make contact with a guy that’s within the yard of the line of scrimmage. That’s what he has to gauge properly and he missed it.”
Kearse also got called for two OPIs in the second game of the season at Los Angeles, and then had one each in the tie at Arizona and then last week against the Eagles. One of the OPIs against the Rams came when Kearse was called for pushing off as he battled for separation against a defender. But the other four have all been pick-play calls.
“I mean I do a lot of things in our offense,” Kearse said. “And I guess they are targeting me, so I’m just going to continue to do my job. Just something that comes with that job, I guess.”
Kearse is used often in that role and it often works, such as the winning touchdown against Miami when Kearse made a similar move that helped clear some space for Doug Baldwin.
Kearse also said that he has usually been told the week after that the penalties were missed calls.
“That one last week they came back and said it wasn’t offensive pass interference,” he said. “There’s been maybe one that they said was actually a penalty.”
Carroll said it’s obvious that officials are emphasizing offensive pass interference calls, meaning Kearse and the rest of the Seahawks are going to have to adjust.
“I think in the last couple years officials have really come to understand what’s going on with it,” Carroll said. “We’ve really been specific and disciplined, officials have been, about trying to gauge that one yard area. It’s still a hard call to make. Blocks that start within the one yard area on some of the screens and things that extend beyond that, really hard for them to call. It’s just a difficult call for them. They’re working on it really hard. Yesterday you notice that they called from up top and they talked to the line judge to make sure that they had the right depths and stuff like that. They’re really tuned into it well, and they made the right call.”