This game probably should have never been played, given the very real threat of Tropical Storm Harvey’s potential impact upon New Orleans…
But play they did.
And 1st round pick Marlon Humphrey stole the show.
Humphrey was strong in coverage and created one of the defense’s two turnovers when he drove his shoulder into Saints running back Daniel Lasco to force a first-quarter fumble.
Thanks in large part to Humphrey’s big plays, the Ravens held on to defeat the Saints 14-13.
Baltimore raved about Humphrey’s physicality when it drafted the Alabama product with the 16th-overall pick. He’s 6-foot-0, 197 pounds and isn’t afraid to throw his body into the fray.
“That felt good,” Humphrey said with a smile. “I just wanted to make some type of play today. I was able to make a play, get that excitement going again that I haven’t had for a while. … I’ll walk away pretty pleased with the first one.”
It’s been a somewhat frustrating preseason for Humphrey as he’s dealt with a pair of injuries in training camp. The injuries held him to just six snaps in the first three preseason games, all in the second game in Miami.
Humphrey played the entire game in New Orleans. The Ravens likely wouldn’t have given him quite that much action, but they were short on cornerbacks with Sheldon Price (concussion) knocked out and Jaylen Hill (undisclosed) not suited up.
“I’m a guy that definitely wants to get some games in, especially if you can play a game before the season starts. There’s a difference from college to the NFL,” Humphrey said. “I do feel a lot better now that I got a little game time.”
“They ran the play that I kind of had an idea they were going to run,” Humphrey said. “I kind of get after it when I see things like that, so it was definitely a play I like to make.”
Saints kicker Wil Lutz made two of four field goal attempts, having one blocked and narrowly missing a 59-yarder for the lead in the final seconds.
Ravens quarterback Ryan Mallett completed three of eight passes in three offensive series, but his final throw was a touchdown strike over the middle to Chris Moore in tight coverage on fourth down. Bobby Rainey added a touchdown on a 2-yard end run to make it 14-0. That capped a 66-yard drive led by reserve QB Thad Lewis, who completed four passes and had a first-down scramble during the series.
Chase Daniel, aiming to reclaim his former job as quarterback Drew Brees‘ backup, threw a 16-yard scoring pass to tight end Josh Hill. The play highlighted an inconsistent night in which Daniel completed 11 of 19 passes for 103 yards and was intercepted by nose tackle Carl Davis, setting up the Ravens’ first touchdown.
Late in the third quarter, the Saints made it 14-10 after defensive back Arthur Maulet, a New Orleans native trying to make the club, recovered a fumble he’d also forced by stripping punt returner and former Navy star Keenan Reynolds.
INJURY REPORT—Ravens: Cornerback Sheldon Price left with an apparent concussion. … Onwuasor went down with what Baltimore officials described as a “stinger” in his shoulder and was later cleared to return.
Saints: Rookie safety Marcus Williams needed attention from trainers, but his injury was not clear or disclosed by the Saints. … Running back Travaris Cadet appeared to have an upper body injury after a 25-yard reception in the final minute. … Daniel had a walking boot on his right leg after the game for what he described as a twisted right ankle, the result of landing awkwardly after leaving his feet to throw the ball away under pressure.
What’s particularly impressive about the forced fumble caused by Humphrey, other than Humphrey’s physicality, is that his instincts led him to making the play. Before the play, the 21-year-old rookie told the outside linebacker to stay wide because he wanted to shoot the gap inside.
“I don’t know why, I kind of saw it before it happened,” Humphrey said. “They ran the play that I kind of had an idea they were going to run, so I saw him coming and I get happy when I see things like that. It’s the kind of play I like to make.”
It wasn’t just his forced fumble that stood out, however. Humphrey was also strong in coverage. According to the play-by-play of the action, he allowed just three catches for 17 yards.
Twice, he took the receiver completely out of the play for long incompletions. He was beaten by a step on another long pass in the third quarter, but used his impressive closing speed to recover and break up the pass.
Humphrey was flagged twice during the game, once for a 9-yard pass interference and later for illegal use of hands.
“I saw a lot of good coverage,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said of Humphrey’s play Thursday night. “I saw a press corner. I saw him get a ball out on a nine-route on the right side that was really good. I saw a couple times where he was a little looser than I would like in press, but that’s part of the game. I thought he played well.”