Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith has made a habit of killing the Chicago Bears over the course of his career. Smith had 10 catches for 181 yards in last year's matchup and, most famously, he had 12 catches for 218 yards and two scores in a 2005 playoff game. This past Sunday, it was up to Tim Jennings to put a stop to that.
Smith did finish with seven catches for 118 yards, but Jennings was able to minimize the damage done to Chicago's defense in the 23-22 victory. Smith only had one catch over 20 yards and did not get into the end zone.
Jennings knew Carolina would target Smith a lot, and all he could do was stay aggressive and remain in the right position to succeed (via ESPN Chicago):
"He's a Pro Bowl receiver who's been doing this for awhile," Jennings said. "He's going to make some plays and I just had to step up to the challenge and minimize his playmaking ability. We knew they were going to go to him, but I just kind of wanted to hang in and continue to be aggressive because I knew the opportunities were going to come and they were going to go to him each and every pass play. I just wanted to be in position.
"No. 89 is the guy. That's the guy. We knew we had to stop the running game but in the pass plays we had to lock in No. 89."
Bears coach Lovie Smith decided to go with Jennings on Smith, rather than No. 1 corner Charles Tillman, because of "body type." Tillman is a bigger, more physical corner while Jennings is smaller and faster, which matches Smith's attributes.
Jennings rewarded Lovie's decision with two interceptions, including a pick-six in the fourth quarter after Smith slipped on the Soldier Field turf. The two interceptions gave Jennings an NFL-best six on the season.