Will Hill 'Beats Up' Saints Tight End Jimmy Graham

At the beginning of last week, Ravens coaches came to safety Will Hill and asked if he was ready to cover big-bodied Pro Bowl Saints tight end Jimmy Graham.

Which Ravens coaches? All of them – even Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak.

"For sure," Hill said. "I looked at Coach and was like, 'Are you serious?' I'm always going to bet on myself."

Hill was suspended for the first six games of the season. It took him only two more weeks to become the Ravens' starter. Now the Ravens' faith in him is paying off.

On Monday night, Hill added the playmaking dynamic Baltimore's secondary has sorely lacked, and his 44-yard pick-six turned the tide in the Ravens' 34-27 victory against the Saints.

"Obviously Will Hill's play was the play of the game," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

"We needed a big play on defense. Not just a stop because we've made plenty of stops. Not just a fumble, but an interception. Go grab one and take it the other way. That's been lacking and that's something that we needed and it came right at the right time."

Hill had a difficult start to the season as he sat out due to a substance abuse suspension received while he was still with the New York Giants. Hill was one of the league's best safeties last year, but the Giants let him loose after the discipline.

The Ravens added Hill to an already deep safety position group, and it's proving to be a shrewd move.

The 6-foot-1, 207-pounder has rare size for a safety. That's part of why the Ravens chose him to defend Graham, who may be the league's scariest matchup nightmare at 6-foot-7, 265 pounds.

Hill said the plan was to "beat him up" and talk trash.

"A guy like Graham, you have to be physical with him," Hill said. "He's a big guy. He doesn't expect anyone to get up on him. He expects a linebacker to hit him, but a defensive back, he tries to bully. I feel like I caught him off guard a little bit."

Graham did score two touchdowns, but his overall production was limited to six catches for 47 yards. And Hill won his fair share of their direct exchanges.

Hill's first noteworthy play against Graham came in the end zone in the second quarter. Saints quarterback Drew Brees targeted Graham in the end zone, where he's particularly dangerous because he can sky above defenders.

Hill got a hand on the pass and knocked it away, forcing the Saints to settle for a 20-yard field goal. His play directly saved four points.

Then, with the game tied at 17 in the third quarter, Hill put the Ravens up for good. Brees was pressured by outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and made a poor throw to Graham. It was too far behind him.

Other members of the Ravens secondary have dropped their fair share of potential interceptions, but Hill didn't bobble this one. He snatched it with two hands (defensive backs often let the ball hit their chest) in stride and took it the other way to the end zone.

"As he threw the ball, it was behind him. I saw an opportunity and I just took it," Hill said.

The Ravens secondary has given up too many big plays, especially in critical times this season. In some ways, that continued in New Orleans. The Saints got a 62-yard catch, a 33-yarder and a 26-yard touchdown. Brees threw for a whopping 420 yards and three touchdowns.

But this time the secondary struck back with a play of its own. Hill's interception is only the third of the season for the defensive backs, but the unit has two in the past two games. Recently signed cornerback Danny Gorrer got the other against the Titans before the bye. "We're NFL defensive backs," Hill said. "For people to talk about us like we're little kids, that's belittling. It's just time for us to step up and show what we're capable of."

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