Marcus Peters was built for this.
Making plays with the game on the line. Being part of another team that has a chance to reach the Super Bowl.
Peters had the last word Sunday, preserving the Ravens' 24-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills that clinched a playoff spot for Baltimore. Peters made the last key defensive play of the game – deflecting a pass on fourth down that was intended for John Brown on Buffalo's final offensive play of the game.
The Bills had reached Baltimore's 14-yard line with just over a minute to play. They had a chance to end Baltimore's winning streak, which has now reached nine games. But on fourth-and-16, Peters had Brown covered like a blanket. Peters denied Brown access to Josh Allen's pass with 1:08 left to play, and the Ravens could celebrate their latest win.
Acquiring Peters in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams prior to Week 6 has been one of many keys to the Ravens' defensive turnaround. The Ravens have yet to lose a game with Peters in the lineup, and after going to the Super Bowl last year with the Rams, Peters is trying to make a return trip with the Ravens.
Peters isn't always fond of doing interviews, content to let his actions speak for him. He had his worst game as a Raven last week against the San Francisco 49ers, allowing a touchdown catch and missing several tackles. But since entering the league in 2015, Peters has more interceptions (27) than any NFL player and he is clearly one of the best at his position. He's the kind of player you expect to bounce back, and Sunday he did.
Even when Peters doesn't talk, his Ravens teammates are more than willing to talk about him.
"We already know about Marcus man, he's a baller," Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith said.
"Adding him at midseason like we did, we haven't really looked back since," Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey added.
"That's what Marcus is, he's a closer," Ravens safety Earl Thomas III said. "He can do that at any given time. We have full trust in all our DB's, especially Marcus."
The Ravens also have full trust in each other. That includes for their defense, which put relentless pressure on Allen, sacking him six times and keeping him under duress throughout the game. Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale had an aggressive game plan, blitzing early and often against Allen and forcing him to throw the ball before he wanted.
"He (Martindale) us told us before we even stepped on the field what he was going to," Thomas said. "He stuck with his plan."
Blitzing that much meant that the Ravens secondary was left in man-to-man coverage. But the secondary accepted the challenge, even though it wasn't always pretty.
On Buffalo's final drive, before Peters' game-closing play, Baltimore was called for two penalties including a pass interference call by Humphrey. But the Ravens ultimately prevailed, and Humphrey loved Martindale's mindset.
"Today we definitely blitzed a lot," Humphrey said. "Wink told us that was going to be one of the things, so he told the DB's to get ready. Some of those calls were a gamble but we weren't surprised. It worked out."
Baltimore's offense has grabbed most of the headlines this season, but the Ravens' defense has played lights out recently, holding its last two opponents to 17 points. No matter what it takes to win, the Ravens seem to find a way. On Sunday, it was Peters making the last defensive play to seal the win.
"It was good coverage," Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He's (Peters) a great athlete, I feel like it was a very disciplined coverage. He played the technique well, his eyes were in the right spot. It was an all-out blitz, we had a number of them at the end. It was kind of man-on-man out there. Our guys did a real good job."