OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — A two-point loss at Cleveland. A one-point loss to Green Bay. A one-point loss to the Los Angeles Rams. A three-point overtime loss to Pittsburgh.
That’s how close Tyler Huntley came to rescuing Baltimore’s 2021 season.
“It stuck with me the whole offseason,” he said. “I’ve had to think about those losses all offseason. So yes, shoot, it’s still stuck with me right now.”
These are the opportunities you need to take advantage of as a young backup quarterback, and the 24-year-old Huntley has another chance.
The Ravens have ruled Lamar Jackson out for Saturday’s game at Cleveland, and all signs point to Huntley as the starter for a second straight week.
Huntley left last weekend’s victory at Pittsburgh in the third quarter, but he’s been able to practice this week and coach John Harbaugh said Thursday he had cleared concussion protocol.
Huntley said he doesn’t think he actually had a concussion.
“The protocols — they were doing their job and making sure I was safe,” he said. “Clearly, I’m safe enough to play this week.”
Huntley played a major role in five games last season. He started at Chicago when Jackson was ill and led a late touchdown drive for a 16-13 win, but three weeks later, Jackson went down with an ankle injury at Cleveland and didn’t play again for the rest of the season.
Huntley nearly led the Ravens back from a big deficit in that game, but they lost in the end. Then a missed 2-point conversion left them a point short against the Packers.
After missing a key game at Cincinnati while on the COVID-19 list — the Ravens lost 41-21 with Josh Johnson at quarterback — Huntley returned for the two close losses to the Rams and Steelers. He finished the season with a passer rating of 76.6, and he’d shown he could provide a rushing threat at least somewhat similar to Jackson. He also threw three interceptions in the final two games.
Avoiding those types of turnovers is crucial because the Ravens have a good running game and a defense that’s been stout lately. They don’t need Huntley trying to do too much.
And with Jackson recovering from a knee injury, Baltimore definitely doesn’t need Huntley taking unnecessary risks — a point offensive coordinator Greg Roman made recently.
“I’m an aggressive player. I try to get the first down on every down, or the touchdown,” Huntley said. “He told me, ‘Slide a little, just see another day.’ That’s what I’m going to continue to work on.”
A few playoff contenders have gone down their depth charts at quarterback. San Francisco’s Brock Purdy has become a bit of a sensation after beating Tom Brady and Tampa Bay last week. Atlanta rookie Desmond Ridder makes his debut as a starter this weekend after Marcus Mariota went on injured reserve. Washington has played well for Taylor Heinicke and has a big game against the New York Giants coming up.
The Ravens have confidence in Huntley, and they were able to win last weekend even when rookie Anthony Brown had to finish the game.
“I’m very pleased with our guys. They’ve done a great job. It’s a great room,” Harbaugh said. “They work well together. Of course, (quarterbacks coach) James Urban does a great job, (assistant quarterbacks coach) Kerry Dixon also assists with that and does a great job.”
Huntley, who played against Jackson as a high school quarterback in Florida, will try to make the most of his latest chance until Baltimore’s biggest star returns.
“It’s a blessing to play for the Ravens,” Huntley said. “Every time I step on the field, I want to just prove that I appreciate this opportunity.”
NOTES: T Morgan Moses (knee), P Jordan Stout (knee) and G Kevin Zeitler (knee) were listed as questionable for Saturday.
Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister
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