Let's try to figure out what Lavonte David right before his moment of infamy, shall we?
David, a Buccaneers linebacker, was pursuing Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith on a scramble. Smith gave himself up and was running out of bounds to stop the clock with seven seconds left. The Jets trailed by two points, and could at least get a Hail Mary pass from midfield after Smith stopped the clock. Smith was obviously going to go out of bounds, and he was already there by the time David arrived.
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So, do we have any ideas on what David was thinking when he shoved Smith for no reason at all? Probably not, because David couldn't have been doing a ton of thinking at that moment.
David shoved Smith in the shoulder and knocked him down, and even if you think Smith did a bit of an acting job to sell the penalty, it was absolutely and entirely unnecessary by David to touch him at all. David was given a 15-yard penalty. Smith was already out of bounds, and it wasn't like he was going to turn upfield anyway. But David said he thought Smith was going to stay in bounds, which doesn't make much logical sense considering he needed to stop the clock.
"I wouldn’t have hit him if I thought he wasn’t going to stay in bounds," David told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. "They said he was out of a bounds so the guy called the flag. To me, he was in bounds."
If David let him go, the Jets were either going to attempt a NFL record-tying 63-yard field goal or throw one final pass to the end zone. Both have little chance of being successful. Instead, the Jets hit a 48-yard field goal to win the game.
David is a very good young linebacker who unfortunately will have this penalty attached to his name for a long time. After the play David threw his hands up like he couldn't believe the call, but it was pretty clear that it was going to draw a flag. Any time a player, and especially a quarterback, is clearly headed out of bounds, an extra hit is going to end up with a 15-yard penalty.
David should have known better. He made a pretty big mistake that'll hang over the Buccaneers' record for the rest of the season.