Paul Kruger wanted so desperately to make a play, but the outside linebacker understood that his eagerness led to a significant mistake in the Ravens’ 12-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars Monday night.
On fourth down-and-12 from Jacksonville’s 40-yard line, Kruger found a lane and sprinted forward to block Nick Harris’ punt. Kruger missed and his momentum carried him into Harris.
Kruger was flagged for running into the kicker, and although the Jaguars were still facing fourth-and-7, they were five yards closer. That allowed Josh Scobee to convert a 54-yard field goal and give Jacksonville a 6-0 lead with 5:58 left in the second quarter.
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At the time of the miss, the Ravens trailed the Jaguars, 9-0, but might have the field goal shifted momentum in the Ravens’ favor?
“I was doing my best to get there, and I thought I was a little bit further away than I thought,” Kruger said after Wednesday’s practice. “I just had my momentum going all the way forward. I tried to put my hands up and move to the right, but he kind of kicked and then as he was coming back from his kick, he kind of stuck his foot out there for me to hit and obviously made it more dramatic than it was. Got the penalty, and it was my bad. It was definitely my mistake. I was doing my best to get there and just should have anticipated it better.”
Kruger said toeing the line between being aggressive and pulling up to avoid contact and a subsequent penalty can be a difficult task.
“It’s tough, it really is tough,” he said. “You want to do your best to help the team, and if I would’ve blocked it, it would’ve been a big play, and it would’ve helped us out. But at the same time, I put us in a bad situation by making that mistake. It is a delicate line, and it is tough, but I’ll definitely learn from my mistake and do better next time.”