TAMPA, Fla. Jermaine Kearse now has five penalties for offensive pass interference this season. No other wide receiver in the NFL has more than three.
But Kearse says the league has admitted erring on almost all those calls against him this season.
He got his 256th penalty this season for offensive pass interference on Sunday.
OK, it only seems like that many on the Seahawks’ veteran wide receiver.
"I probably lead the league in OPI calls," Kearse said, incredulously, in the visitors’ locker room at Raymond James Stadium following Seattle’s 14-5 loss at Tampa Bay, just the Buccaneers’ second win in six home games this season.
Yes, he does lead the league -- for a foul that is relatively rare, too.
Kearse’s flag for essentially blocking or at least obstructing a Buccaneers cover man trying to get down the field in the third quarter of Seattle’s 14-5 loss at Tampa Bay was the second time in as many games he’d been called for OPI. Though the Bucs declined his foul because Russell Wilson’s third-down pass to Tyler Lockett was incomplete down the sideline past Kearse, it was the NFL-leading fifth time he’d been flagged for that infraction this season.
Kearse said the Seahawks have sent requests to the league for explanations on the previous four calls. He said the NFL had reported back that "there might have been maybe one" of the previous flags were actually penalties.
"It’s pretty evident that I do a lot of things in our offense. And I guess they are targeting me,” Kearse said.
He was staying vague on purpose because it’s just as obvious that teammates rubbing off Kearse’s almost picks are a staple in Russell Wilson’s quick passing game for Seattle. Has been for years.
"I’m going to continue to do my job. It’s just something that comes with that job, I guess,” he said. “I’ve been doing the same things I’ve been doing this whole time (since he joined the Seahawks and NFL in 2012).
"Last week, that one last week (against Philadelphia) they came back and said that wasn’t offensive pass interference."
Kearse, who had a catch of a fourth-and-14 pass from Russell Wilson late to keep Seattle’s last hope briefly alive, just chuckled in lieu of an explanation for all the flags.
"Honestly, I really don’t know," he said. "This is the first time I’ve been penalized – ever. ... When we played the Patriots (two weeks ago) I saw some routes out there that looked exactly the same.
"But, I guess I’ve just got to find a better way to do it, to do my job."
Kearse’s flag was absolutely not why the Seahawks deserved to lose Sunday.
My News Tribune colleague Dave Boling and I discuss those reasons here: