Tyler Huntley was at his best Sunday when the Ravens needed him most.
Orchestrating a 91-yard drive on Baltimore's final possession, the Ravens' unflappable backup quarterback scored the game-winning touchdown that lifted them to a 10-9 victory over the Broncos. The final 16-play drive was a display of Huntley's confidence and dual-threat talent, as he calmly marched Baltimore down the field using his arm, legs, and ability to improvise.
After Lamar Jackson left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury, Huntley took over and helped the Ravens (8-4) win a game they could have easily lost. Trailing, 9-3, with 5:02 left to play, the Ravens knew the situation when they took possession at their own 9-yard line. They were running out of time. They needed a touchdown, in a game where neither team had reached the end zone yet.
Huntley rose to occasion, and if he felt pressure, he never showed it.
"Just like practice," Huntley said, smiling. "We were all talking to each other telling us, 'Hey, we need points here. That's the only way we're going to win this game.' So, all of us stayed calm, focused on the play that was called at that time, and we just started executing the best way that we can."
Huntley finished the game 27 of 32 for 187 yards, and he also rushed 10 times for 41 yards, using his running ability to pick up tough yards in key situations. While the Ravens are not certain how much time Jackson will miss, their confidence in Huntley won't waver.
"Calm, cool, confident. [He was] acting like he's been there before, which he has," tight end Mark Andrews said. "So, [I have] just so much love and respect for his game and what he's able to do. That was a good Broncos team, a good Broncos defense, and the way he was slinging the ball was crazy. When he's able to get out of the pocket, it's big-time plays. Obviously, he's been able to learn a ton from Lamar, but his game is very polished."
Huntley led a similar game-winning drive last season in the fourth quarter against the Bears when Jackson was too ill to play. Starting the last four games of the 2021 season after Jackson's season-ending ankle injury gave Huntley valuable in-game experience that can't be duplicated during practice.
Huntley barely had time to warm up after Jackson came to the sideline between the first and second quarter, then headed to the medical tent. This Huntley's first action at quarterback this season, but he has never complained about his role. He was undrafted out of Utah in 2020 despite leading the Utes to the Pac 12 championship game as a senior. After earning his way onto the Ravens roster, Huntley has proven he belongs in the NFL and more. His teammates were happy for him, but always expect him to play well.
"Honestly, it's not even surprising to us," right guard Kevin Zeitler said. "Even going back to last year, time and time again, when Tyler is in the game, good things happen. We're lucky on this team to have him. He can be a starting quarterback on almost any other team in the league. Calm, cool and collected in the huddle and he is able to make the plays.
"It wasn't a pretty day for us overall, but give a big shoutout to our defense for taking us into the fourth quarter and giving us a chance. However long we need Tyler for, we are in good hands."
The final drive displayed why Huntley can be so difficult to defend. He made accurate throws, like his 12-yard completion to Isaiah Likely for a first down on 2nd-and-11. He made instinctive plays, like when he scrambled to his left and allowed Kenyan Drake extra time to break free from a defender for a 13-yard completion that set up the game-winning score. Huntley and Drake read each other perfectly, and Huntley had the poise to let the play develop.
"I was about to just swing it out to him so he can get out of bounds," Huntley said. "But the [line]backer – whatever [jersey] number he was – he did a good job of hugging. But he didn't do a good job of staying with him."
The completion to Drake gave Baltimore a first-and-goal at the two-yard line with 31 seconds left. On the next play, Huntley took a direct snap from the shotgun and darted into the end zone.
M&T Bank Stadium went wild, as Huntley's coolness under pressure helped save the day for Baltimore.
"How much pressure? I don't know; I never played quarterback in the National Football League, but I have to tell you – it has to be something tangible," Head Coach John Harbaugh said, after giving Huntley a game ball.
"Let's give 'Snoop' credit; he led a game-winning drive at the end there from what, the 9-yard line was it? That's pretty remarkable."