The best one-on-one matchup on the field Sunday was Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey vs. Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Humphrey won the battle between the whistles – and he won the fight after it too.
Humphrey and Beckham got into a fight during the third quarter of Sunday’s game, with both players (and more) drawing unnecessary roughness penalties but neither being ejected.
It’s unclear what started the scuffle, but the two players went at it at the end of the play. Beckham tried to sweep Humphrey’s leg, and threw a punch at the cornerback’s head. Humphrey took Beckham to the ground and held him down.
“I ran into him after the game and apologized,” Humphrey said. “That’s not really the brand of football I want to represent. [After] the whistle blows, it’s got to be over with.”
Did Beckham offer an apology in return?
“I don’t think he did, but I definitely told the refs they should have ejected him,” Humphrey said with a grin.
Referee Shawn Hochuli told a pool reporter that he did not see anything that rose to the standard of being ejected.
Asked what led to the fight, Humphrey only said, “Did you see the game?”
Beckham’s explanation: “It’s hot out there. We’re just competing. I’m just upset that I lost my earring.”
It was clear that Humphrey was getting under Beckham’s skin.
Humphrey held Beckham to just two catches for 20 yards and shut him out through three-and-a-half quarters, proving that the third-year cornerback is among the NFL’s elite at his position.
Beckham was the most buzzed about player of the offseason following his trade to Cleveland. The three-time Pro Bowler is one of the game’s top wide receivers, and he torched the Ravens the last time he faced them with the Giants.
But not this time, not with Humphrey following him the entire game. Humphrey had this game circled on his calendar after hearing all the talk about Beckham’s arrival in the AFC North.
“I enjoyed going against a top guy like that,” Humphrey said. “This offseason, I’ve had more people tell me, ‘Oh, you get to play Odell!’ People don’t usually talk to me about stuff like that. The excitement he brings to the game, he can really do it all. It was a really great matchup.”
So how does he come away feeling from shutting down one of the NFL’s best?
“We lost, so it is what it is,” Humphrey said.
Though Humphrey’s performance in the one-on-one matchup was excellent, he put some of the defense’s larger mistakes on his shoulders. For the third straight week, the Ravens left receivers wide open in the secondary. This time, it was a long completion to tight end Ricky Seals-Jones.
“I know one of those was a coverage bust by me. I can’t be doing that,” Humphrey said. “I’ve got to know the coverage, know what we’re doing and how we’re playing it all week, and execute it. I think that’s the biggest thing that’s hurting us right now. I’m averaging a few busts per game.”