Jerome Baker, the Miami Dolphins’ speedy rookie linebacker taken in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft, had a homecoming of sorts on Sunday.
The Cleveland native and former standout at Ohio State played his first game back in the Buckeye state with the Dolphins facing the Cincinnati Bengals.
And while the mood has been dampened by Miami’ 27-17 loss — one in which Cincinnati rattled off 27 unanswered points in the second half and scored two touchdowns off offensive turnovers — Baker hit a milestone in his home state by recording the first two sacks of his NFL career.
“It was a great feeling,” Baker said of the two sacks, “but if you ask me if we all feel the same, we don’t. We took a loss. That’s the way I look at it. We still lost.”
Baker’s sacks, though, came at opportune times.
The first came late in the first half and set the stage for Jakeem Grant’s 70-yard punt return touchdown with less than a minute remaining before intermission. The second came as Cincinnati was surging down the field and forced the Bengals to settle for a 51-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Baker finished the game with six tackles and added a pair of quarterback hits. Five games into his NFL career, Baker has 33 total tackles,
“I still have a lot of work to do, but I’m steadily improving every week,” Baker said. “That’s pretty much my whole focus: Improve every week. Definitely just want to get better every week.”