Falcons’ Jared Bernhardt’s only catch was a big one

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

DETROIT – Falcons wide receiver Jared Bernhardt, an undrafted free agent from Ferris State (Mich.), came up with the biggest play in the 27-23 win over the Lions on Friday at Ford Field.

On fourth-and-9, with under 1:30 to play, he fought on a defender and hauled down a 21-yard touchdown pass, his only catch of the game.

“It was definitely cool for sure,” Bernhardt said. “I’m just try to focus on being in the moment right now with the Falcons. I’m just happy to come out with the win.”

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Bernhardt played quarterback at Ferris State and led the team to the school’s first NCAA Division II national title last season.

“He got recruited to be an option quarterback by the service academies, too,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “Good athlete. A competitor.”

The Falcons signed him to compete as a receiver and a kick returner.

“He’s so hard on himself,” Smith said. “He walked up to me at the end and he was upset. He told me he didn’t run a good route. I said Bernie, it doesn’t matter to me ... you came up with the play.”

Bernhardt was one of the nation’s top lacrosse players, winning the Tewaaraton Award as the nation’s top player in spring 2021 while at Maryland.

He saw quarterback Desmond Ridder scrambling and worked his way back to the ball.

“Sometimes, the play, you draw them up and they don’t come out that way,” Bernhardt said. “Dez extended the play. I saw him scramble outside and I tried to help him out by coming back to the ball.”

Bernhardt had to battle though some contact from Lions cornerback Cedric Boswell to make his way to the pass.

“I definitely did,” Bernhardt said. “Coach Smith, he preaches that, finish the play,” Bernhardt said. “Go and attack the ball. I just had to fight through.”

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Bernhardt was asked if his lacrosse experience helped on that play.

“I think it was all football,” Bernhardt said. “Just try to go out there and make a play.”

Bernhardt is enjoying his time with the Falcons, who want to develop him. He might be a longshot to make the 53-man roster, but some time on the practice squad could help him develop more.

“I’m just trying to enjoy the moment,” Bernhardt said. “I’m happy to be here. Happy to be here with this group of guys, this team and this organization.”

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Ferris State is in Big Rapids, Michigan. They are currently in camp and Bernhardt was not sure if any the coaches made it to the game.

“I was fortunate that coach (Tony) Annese got in contact with me after I sent out some emails,” Bernhardt said. “I was very happy about my time there and fortunate that he gave me an opportunity to play there in Big Rapids.”

Bernhardt plan to keep the football he caught.

“You have a plan and sometimes that plan doesn’t work,” Bernhardt said. “You’ve got to … you can’t sit there sulk. You have to finish it. Finish the play. Especially when you get those extended plays from Dez and Marcus (Mariota). Definitely, fortunate for those guys to have legs and extend the play.”

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