Sun, 07 Mar 2021

Backup Quarterback Tyler Huntley Shows Something in Loss

Baltimore Ravens
18 Jan 2021, 04:25 GMT+10

Clifton Brown

After Saturday night, more people understand what Lamar Jackson sees in Tyler Huntley.

When he was asked about Huntley during the regular season, Jackson smiled and didn't want to say much about the undrafted rookie quarterback.

"I don't want to tell y'all anything about him," Jackson said. "I don't need you'll hyping him up. I know what he's capable of doing. We want to keep him under the radar as much as possible."

Huntley got his moment in the spotlight during Saturday night's 17-3 playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills, and he displayed confidence. Jackson left with a concussion on the final play of the third quarter, and backup quarterbacks rarely enter games in a more difficult position. The Ravens were 14 points down on the road, facing a fired-up defense that was making the game difficult for Jackson, last year's Most Valuable Player.

However, the magnitude of the playoff moment didn't appear too big for Huntley. He responded well to a pressure-packed moment, completing 6 of 13 passes for 60 yards, and running for 32 yards on three carries, reinforcing his potential for the future.

"We were just trying to get points on the board, just fighting until the very end," Huntley said. "It's an NFL game, so it can go down to the wire, and you have to fight until the end. We've just got to find a way to get that ball in the end zone."

Huntley wasn't perfect and his biggest miscue was overthrowing Marquise "Hollywood" Brown on fourth down when he was open on a long pass for a possible touchdown. But while the Ravens never scored in the fourth quarter, Huntley ripped off a 19-yard run on his first play, and on his final drive of the game, he completed four passes and led Baltimore on a 12-play, 56-yard drive.

The drive ended on fourth-and-goal from the 10, when tight end Mark Andrews could not control a high pass from Huntley in the end zone. However, Huntley didn't look tentative at all, and seemed confident he could make something positive happen.

"I was just trying to get warmed up as quickly as I could," Huntley said. "I just tried to help this team and do what I could to get closer and give us a chance."

The Ravens have offseason decisions to make regarding their backup quarterback and Huntley is clearly in the picture. Veteran quarterback Robert Griffin III is not under contract for next season, after finishing his third year with the Ravens on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. Backup quarterback Trace McSorley suffered a season-ending knee injury in December and he has seen very little playing time in his two seasons with the team.

After the injuries to Griffin and McSorley, Huntley was elevated from the practice squad to being the No. 2 quarterback, and he has traits that could allow him to remain in that role. Huntley's mobility fits the Ravens' offense, and though he wasn't drafted, he had a strong college career at Utah where he threw for 3,092 yards, 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions as a senior. He completed 73 percent of his passes and also ran for 290 yards and five scores.

Huntley was named first-team Pac 12 over former Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, who was drafted sixth overall and had an impressive rookie season with the Los Angeles Chargers. None of Huntley's teammates were surprised by how calmly Huntley handled Saturday night's emergency situation.

"Obviously, you want your best players out there when the game is on the line, but we had confidence in 'Snoop,'" defensive end Calais Campbell said. "I see him in practice, and I see he has potential to be a great player and to see an opportunity - and he seized it. He went out there and made some plays and gave us an opportunity. It's inches - it's a game of inches, and we just didn't get it done. But we fought hard."

Huntley and Jackson are both from South Florida, and they faced each other in a memorable high school playoff game in 2014. Huntley's team prevailed in a clash that Jackson reminded Huntley about after he signed with Baltimore in April.

Both Jackson and Huntley have reached their dream of playing in the NFL, and it's clear that Huntley has the potential to stay. The Ravens' season is over. But Huntley's career might just be getting started.

"We have all seen what Snoop can do, and you've seen that," outside linebacker Matthew Judon said. "It could've been a different game or outcome or something, if he could've connected with 'Hollywood' up the sideline. That's just what it is. He went out there fighting, and we all have [had] faith in 'Snoop' since he got here. It's not newfound love.

"You want Lamar playing in a game. Lamar is an MVP for a reason, but when Snoop stepped on the field, it wasn't like he couldn't get the job done. We knew he could get the job done."

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