The Ravens sure look to have the playmaking receiver their offense has long desired.
Rookie receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown continued to build off his standout Week 1 performance with a strong showing in the home opener, including a 41-yard catch to seal Sunday’s 23-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
Brown, who’s seemed supremely confident and prepared for the big stage since the Ravens took him with the 25th-overall pick, spoke about the big play like it was just par for the course.
“Lamar threw a great pass. I couldn’t ask for a better ball,” Brown said. “All I had to do was hold my position and make a big play. I saw it in the air, I was like, ‘This is money right here.’ I couldn’t mess that one up.”
Brown’s ho-hum attitude toward the catch undersells just how significant, and difficult, it was.
The Ravens were clinging to a six-point lead, but the Cardinals had hung around late into the fourth quarter. Baltimore certainly didn’t want to punt the ball back to rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, who already had 349 passing yards on the day.
The Ravens considered playing it safe and running the ball on that third-and-11 with 3:05 remaining, but ultimately decided to go for the big play.
“We’ve got to get the first down and there’s a man covering him, no safety help over the top, and he ran a great route,” Jackson said. “I just had to make a great throw. He came down with the catch. It just put us in the best position to win the game and that’s what it was.”
Brown’s adjustment to the NFL has been rapid.
He showed off the big-play ability against Miami last week by taking his first two catches to the house. He took another step in his progression Sunday by delivering in a huge moment.
“For Marquise to go up and make that play, it’s incredible,” said tight end Mark Andrews, who played with Brown at Oklahoma. “It’s a huge play. That can’t be overlooked, especially as a rookie going up and making that play and sealing the game for us.”
Brown’s immediate impact has been somewhat surprising considering the uphill road he had to take after suffering a serious Lisfranc foot injury in his final college game. He couldn’t even run full speed until just before training camp, and the Ravens eased him into action throughout the summer. Brown still says he’s not at top speed.
But he’s quickly established himself as the team’s top receiver. His breakaway speed is immediately evident, but he can also work the underneath routes like he did against the Cardinals. He finished the game with eight catches for 86 yards.
“He has special hands, no doubt about it,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “He can track really well. It’s not just that he can run fast. He’s a receiver.”
Brown has been a game-changer for Baltimore’s offense through the first two games. He’s provided a much-needed deep threat for Jackson, and his role looks like it’s just going to continue to grow throughout the year.
“You take plays and you make plays,” Harbaugh said. “You also create plays. I think in that situation between Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown … [the Cardinals] had pretty good coverage right there. They made a big play. They made a play in a critical situation. That’s something that, man, that’s pretty special.”