It probably won’t come as a shock to many that Bernard Pollard has cost the Tennessee Titans more yards in penalties this season than any other player.
The veteran safety whose tough-guy reputation seems to earn him heightened scrutiny from officials claimed the top spot during Sunday’s 51-28 loss at Denver when he was flagged twice, once for unsportsmanlike conduct and once for a personal foul. The first came with 1:50 to play in the first half and the second was roughly two and a half minutes into the second half.
The 30 yards in violations nearly doubled Pollard’s season total to 62 penalty yards for the season and moved him to the top of the chart, three ahead of cornerback Alterraun Verner.
“I don’t think anyone deliberately is looking for [Pollard] to do something, but I think there’s no doubt they’re aware of him,” coach Mike Munchak said. “They’re aware of guys when they go into games just like when we tell them, ‘Hey, watch for this, watch for that.’ I’m sure the guys on the other team are saying, ‘Hey, watch (Bernard) Pollard. He’s going to take some shots.’”
It’s not that Pollard has been penalized often. It’s just that when he has broken the rules – in the minds of game officials, at least – he has broken big ones. His penalties have cost the Titans an average of 12.4 yards.
MOST PENALTY YARDS AGAINST, 2013
Titans, through Sunday
Bernard Pollard – 62 yards on five penalties
Alterraun Verner – 59 yards on eight penalties
Andy Levitre – 55 yards on seven penalties
Kenny Britt – 50 yards on five penalties
Akeem Ayers – 45 yards on six penalties
Moise Fokou – 45 yards on three penalties
When measured against the recent history of the franchise, though, Pollard’s play this season has been downright angelic. It will take two more 15-yard penalties and then some against him in the remaining three games just to crack the Titans’ top 15 in terms of penalty yards against in a single season.
Cornerback Cortland Finnegan was penalized more than 80 yards three times in a four-year period. Three others, led by Pacman Jones in 2005, exceeded 100 yards in penalties in a single season.
MOST PENALTY YARDS AGAINST, SEASON
(Titans era, 1999-2013)
Pacman Jones (2005) – 133 yards on 14 penalties
Fred Miller (2004) – 115 yards on 14 penalties
Samari Rolle (2003) – 110 yards on nine penalties
Cortland Finnegan (2007) – 99 yards on seven penalties
Jason Babin (2010) – 98 yards on 13 penalties
Denard Walker (2000) – 94 yards on seven penalties
Fred Miller (2001) – 90 yards on 13 penalties
Cortland Finnegan (2010) – 89 yards on eight penalties
Brad Hopkins (2001) – 85 yards on 10 penalties
Dainon Sidney (1999) – 84 yards on 10 penalties
Perry Phenix (1999) – 84 yards on four penalties
Pacman Jones (2006) – 82 yards on seven penalties
Cortland Finnegan (2008) – 81 yards on eight penalties
Brad Hopkins (2005) – 81 yards on 12 penalties
Michael Griffin (2012) – 80 yards on six penalties
“You want a guy that loves what he does, has a passion for his job,” Munchak said Monday. “That’s contagious to some degree. It’s a fine line there [because] you have to be able to control that passion and not have plays that hurt the football team. [Pollard] truly understands that.”
Much better than some of those who preceded him, apparently.