Jacksonville Jaguars rookie linebacker Telvin Smith was flagged early in Sunday's loss to the Houston Texans for an unsportsmanlike hit on Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson. Johnson caught a pass over the middle and was immediately met by Smith and knocked unconscious.
The flag was immediately thrown.
"Yeah it was a good call. It was helmet to helmet. It’s unfortunate," Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said about the hit on Monday. "You hate to see anybody go down like that and it’s an aggressive play. But he went down, Telvin was trying to target low and it just happened."
There was nothing malicious about Smith's hit, he wasn't targeting Johnson's head but because of the letter of the rule, the flag was thrown giving the Texans a new set of downs, which lead to a touchdown rather than a field goal and a hefty fine is likely on it's way from the NFL.
There wasn't anything different Smith could have really done on the play, since Johnson lowered his head as Smith was closing in on him.
"It’s hard. Coaching defense and seeing that, I’ve been around players that are so frustrated they have tears in their eyes because they don’t know the answer," Bradley told reporters when asked what Smith could have done differently. "And to go through it with them, just to continually talk to them about targeting and their approach to it. Some of those it’s bang-bang and it happens. It was a critical time. The ball is out and they’re kicking a field goal and instead it’s first down."
As mentioned, there wasn't anything Smith could have done to not get flagged, outside of simply not tackling Johnson or diving at his knees.