Marcus Peters taught Ryan Finley a painful lesson in his first start as an NFL quarterback.
Peters entered Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals with 25 interceptions since entering the NFL in 2015. That’s the most of any player during that time span. If you throw in Peters’ direction, you need to be extra careful.
Finley wasn’t careful enough in the second quarter and Peters made him pay. With the Cincinnati Bengals already trailing, 21-3, Finley led the Bengals deep into Baltimore territory and thought he saw wide receiver Alex Erickson open in the right flat.
What Finley didn’t see was Peters lurking. He’s often lurking, just waiting to strike.
Finley threw the pass. Peters made his move and easily cut in front of Erickson, making his 26th career interception look easy.
“Just play recognition,” Peters said. “I was playing fast, trusting myself.”
Even better for Peters, there was nobody in front of him once he intercepted the pass. Finley was the only player Peters saw out of the corner of his eye, and there was no way Peters was going to allow a quarterback to tackle him.
“I just knew I had to beat the quarterback, and I was going to shake (him) anyway,” Peters said.
It was pick-six time for Peters, an 89-yard touchdown play that was the sixth pick-six of his career and third this season alone. It put the Ravens ahead, 28-3, sending them well on their way to their fifth-straight win.
The Ravens acquired Peters in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams last month and the deal has paid immediate dividends. In his Ravens debut against the Seattle Seahawks, Peters showed his new teammates what he’s about with a 67-yard pick-six against one of the best quarterbacks in the game, Russell Wilson.
There are times when Peters reads opposing quarterbacks like he heard which play had been called in the huddle. It’s a combination of film study, anticipation, and instincts which can’t be taught. There are faster cornerbacks than Peters, but none in today’s game are better at catching passes that were intended for someone else.
Finley learned that the hard way Sunday. He quickly joined the list of quarterbacks who have been picked by Peters. Head Coach John Harbaugh loves the takeaway element that Peters has added to a defense that has become opportunistic during Baltimore’s five-game winning streak.
“The turnovers, to your point, have been pretty incredible,” Harbaugh said. “We struggled getting turnovers at times in the past. You get them and put them in the end zone, that’s just players. They deserve all the credit for that.”