Budda Baker was still incredulous Tuesday when asked about his lowering-the-helmet penalty when tackling Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki, and part of the reason was the quiet that emanated from the Dolphins sideline after the hit.
The Cardinals Pro Bowl safety has made plenty of tackles on the opposing sideline before. Usually, he said, there is immediate yelling from players and coaches complaining about some sort of potential penalty or head-to-head contact. But after Baker drilled Gesicki after a catch for no gain, "I thought it was a routine tackle," Baker said. "The sideline was very quiet. I even heard a couple guys say, 'That was a good tackle.' The next thing you know there's a flag."
Baker said as he came in running to make the play, he focused on Gesicki's lower body.
"I always talk about 'eyes to the thighs' and wrap him up, and that what I continue to try to do," Baker said. "I saw it on film and the top of my head maybe skimmed the bottom of his head, but like you said, I'm 5-foot-9, 5-10, he's 6-5, 6-4. In order for me to really have head-to-head contact, I would have to launch my head up into him. I don't think I did that."
Gesicki is listed at 6-6, Baker at 5-10. Part of the problem is that Baker wasn't flagged for helmet-to-helmet contact but lowering the head. Baker said he'll argue it (I would guess that would mean appealing the fine that usually accompanies such a penalty.) He seems to have a good case.
The penalty helped extend what turned out to be the Dolphins' game-tying touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
"I'm just going to try and continue to hit low, hit the legs," Baker said. "I wrapped up, I hit his knees. I don't know what else ... I could try and hit his shins, but again, I don't know. I always focus on hitting the thigh board and wrapping up and that's what I did. That's all I can say."