As the Ravens defense chased Arizona Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, it felt familiar. Something like the way it feels chasing Lamar Jackson in practice, trying to minimize the problems caused by his arm and his mobility.
The Ravens prevailed Sunday, winning a hard-fought 23-17 decision. But Murray – the No. 1-overall pick in this year’s draft – had his moments against Baltimore, completing 25 of 40 passes for 349 yards in his first NFL road game.
Murray only rushed three times for four yards, but he completed many passes despite tight coverage by the Ravens, and he bought more time to throw with his mobility.
Facing Murray was good prep work for the Ravens, who have the challenge of an elite, athletic quarterback next week when they travel to Kansas City to meet Patrick Mahomes. It won’t get any easier against Mahomes and the Chiefs, who will test exactly where Baltimore stands defensively.
Asked what it feels like as a lineman trying to contain mobile quarterbacks who can improvise, Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce said, “It’s not fun. Murray is an amazing athlete. He made a lot of throws, and that’s something we’re definitely going to see next week that we need to correct. It’s something you have to be aware of when you rush, and when you cover. Going against Patrick Mahomes, we have some work to do.”
While Murray had impressive numbers Baltimore’s defense was strong in the red zone, forcing Arizona to settle for three field goals through the first three quarters. David Johnson scored Arizona’s lone touchdown on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter, but Ravens safety Earl Thomas said the Ravens had answers for the Cardinals once they got close to the goal line.
“Kyler did a great job of scrambling when he needed to, but the pressure at the end kind of fazed him,” Thomas said. “They had some good scheme plays and they timed them up perfect. I think it’s more on the coordinator than Kyler. The tempo worked pretty good for them. They kept the pressure on us, guys were scrambling trying to hear the calls.”[quote]
Baltimore’s pass rush also put consistent pressure on Murray with three sacks and nine quarterback hits, and he would have been dropped more if not for his mobility.
Matthew Judon and cornerback Brandon Carr each had one sack, while Pernell McPhee and Patrick Ricard combined for a sack. Pierce felt thankful the Ravens got the win, and said it was easy to see why Murray was the top pick in the draft.
“He’s an amazing athlete, the guy has a rocket arm,” Pierce said. “You can’t coach the kind of stuff that kid does. Thankfully, we did enough to get the win.”