Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith made plenty of plays Sunday, but Tim Jennings made the one that counted.
Jennings’ interception for a touchdown was a crucial turning point in the Bears’ 23-22 comeback win, and Smith took the blame.
“I slipped, sir. I slipped,” Smith said, via Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times. “The ball was thrown. He picked it. That what-if game, and this and that, that requires energy that I just don’t have right now to go through.”
Smith had seven catches for 118 yards Sunday, continuing a run of good games against the Bears (averaging 149 per game entering the day).
And since Jennings was on him all day, Smith’s praise was, shall we say, muted.
“That was the best play he made all game on me,” Smith said. “But it was a key moment in the game, changed the momentum. I know you want to pump him up. But I’ve been kicking his ass every time I come up here. And today wasn’t no different. Do you disagree?”
Jennings took the high road (which isn’t hard when Smith’s coming off a loss), showing respect to his 1-6 opponent.
“It’s very important when you got a Pro Bowl receiver like that’s been playing the game at a high level like that his whole career,” Jennings said. “He’s going to make some plays. But I had to have the mentality that I got to stay up and stay playing aggressive and minimize his playmaking ability.”
While they didn’t minimize Smith, they kept it from making a difference.
And that’s the difference in their responses.