After the Vikings game, Mike Jenkins indicated regarding the pass interference called against him in the fourth quarter, “It was [expletive], that’s what I think it is,” Jenkins said. “They’ve got the 5-yard rule. They need to look at the receivers more.” He further stated, “I’m not gonna change…”
Jenkins is correct. The NFL allows for the cornerback to have contact with the wide receiver within the first five yards of the line of scrimmage. The cornerback is not allowed to hold onto to WR’s jersey or arms and throw the WR to the ground. That would be holding and is a 5 yard penalty with an automatic first down. However, once the ball is in the air, the five yard rule no longer applies and the WR as well as the CB are allowed to go after the ball unencumbered. Contact is allowed when the ball has been tipped, when the QB is outside the pocket (as he may run), or when the ball is otherwise uncatchable.
Here is an autopsy of the 4th quarter PI play. The line of scrimmage is at the Vikings’s 29 yard line. Jenkins plays up on the WR providing him minimal cushion. After the snap of the ball, Jenkins runs with the Lewis and first makes contact at the 34 yard line (within the 5 yard grace region). However, at the time contact is made, the ball is in the air. Jenkins continues contact with the WR through the 40 yard line (well passed 5 yards) and is in fact holding the WR’s jersey with his right hand.
When the WR jumps up into the air to catch the ball, Jenkins does not relinquish his grip and consequently prevents the WR from getting full vertical extension. The ball is 6 inches above the WR’s hands. An unencumbered WR may not catch the ball, but would have a better opportunity of making the reception.
Jenkins at the end of the play holds his hands up like the police have instructed him to do so. There is no other action or gesticulation which admits guilt quite like sticking your hands up when you have not been prompted to do so. The call was not [expletive], but for the 2nd straight week, Jenkins played like [expletive].