Jimmy Smith, the team’s first-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, capped off a promising rookie season with a spectacular interception of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 23-20 loss in the AFC championship game.
Brady threw a deep ball to Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater that safety Bernard Pollard swatted down in the end zone. Smith swooped in, dove and got his hands under the ball before it bounced off the turf. Smith jumped to his feet and returned the interception 39 yards.
Smith played 14 games including the playoffs, starting four of them, and had two interceptions.
“It started off really slow for me,” the cornerback said of his rookie season. “I think I progressed well but there’s still a long way for me to go to where I want to be at personally. I think I did OK.”
He said Monday that he looking forward to getting a full offseason to get a stronger grasp on the defense and that his goal is to secure a full-time starting position in his second NFL season.