The Ravens flew out to Arizona ahead of their preseason game Sunday night a few days early, hoping to make the most of their time together as a team. They practiced in the heat. They watched their rookies sing at a team dinner. They hung out at their hotel pool.
And then, in extending their preseason winning streak to an NFL-record 22 games, they gutted out a victory in prime time. Their 24-17 win over the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium was as much a testament to the first-half excellence of tight end Isaiah Likely and quarterback Tyler Huntley as it was to their clutch play late in all three phases.
Before rookie running back Tyler Badie ran out the clock to extend the longest preseason winning streak by any NFL team confirmed by the Elias Sports Bureau since 1995, the Ravens got a booming 56-yard punt from rookie Jordan Stout to pin Arizona deep. Then they got a couple of sacks from their defensive line and a fourth-down pass breakup from safety Ar’Darius Washington to end Arizona’s hopes of a comeback from a 24-3 deficit.
Here’s a look at the risers and fallers from Sunday’s game.
TE Isaiah Likely
Mark Andrews didn’t have a preseason like this. Not many tight ends ever have a preseason like this. The fourth-round pick continued his breakout August with a performance so dominant it seemed inconceivable that Likely was bullying Sun Belt Conference defenders just over a year ago. Likely finished the first half with eight catches on eight targets for 100 yards and a touchdown. The Coastal Carolina product seemed to get open as easily as he slipped tackles; 53 of his yards came after the catch. Over two games, Likely has caught everything thrown his way — literally. He has 12 catches on 12 targets for 144 yards and a touchdown, good for a 144.4 passer rating when targeted.
QB Tyler Huntley
Another efficient performance from Lamar Jackson’s backup, whose star rose (as much as any second-stringer’s can) in prime time. Despite playing with the Ravens’ second-string receiving corps, Huntley finished 13-for-14 for 129 yards and a touchdown (128.9 passer rating). He improvised when he had to, evading pressure and extending drives. He also fed the hot hand, connecting with Likely eight times; no other Ravens receiver was targeted even twice in the first half. Over two preseason games, Huntley is 29-for-32 for 238 yards and two touchdowns (118.4 rating).
DT Travis Jones
The third-round pick continues to flash, even when he runs afoul of the rulebook. On the first drop-back of Arizona’s third drive, the Connecticut product had such a clean pass-rush win that his straight-ahead surge for quarterback Trace McSorley delivered a glancing helmet-to-helmet blow in the Cardinals’ end zone. On the third drop-back, he appeared to get another pressure and force an incompletion. On the fourth and final drop-back, another pressure, another incompletion. Jones opened his preseason with his first sack, and if his injured knee is healthy, he has enough talent to end his rookie year with a couple more.
P Jordan Stout
Sometimes you’re good, and sometimes you’re lucky. On the fourth-round pick’s first punt Sunday, he was good, booming a 50-yard punt that rolled inside the 10, then the 5, until cornerback Kevon Seymour downed it at the 3. On his second punt, he was good, and also a little lucky. After hitting a 46-yard punt, the Penn State product watched Cardinals returner Greg Dortch signal for a fair catch at the 3-yard line. On his final punt, he boomed a 58-yard punt out of bounds. Stout, who added a successful extra-point attempt, had an “outstanding” preseason debut against the Tennessee Titans, special teams coordinator Chris Horton said. His follow-up might’ve been even better.
CB Damarion “Pepe” Williams
About the only thing that didn’t go right for the fourth-round pick was Kevin Burkhardt’s pronunciation of his nickname. “Peppy,” as the Fox play-by-play man appeared to call him, continued his active preseason with another high-volume game. The Houston product had a nice third-down tackle in the first quarter to force a fourth-down pass that Kyle Fuller intercepted. In the third quarter, he jumped a McSorley pass for an interception that he returned 29 yards. Williams also had a 12-yard punt return, continuing to build on his candidacy if Pro Bowl returner Devin Duvernay’s ever more needed on offense.
G Tyre Phillips
Early in training camp, offensive coordinator Greg Roman was asked how he evaluates his offensive line play. “First of all, it’s communication,” he said. “The offensive line is five people acting as one, and being able to communicate, adjust, make the proper adjustments. One wrong adjustment can blow up a play.” Synchronicity was a problem for Phillips. Lined up at guard, he had two penalties in a one-minute span in the second quarter: one for a false start and one for being illegally downfield on a run-pass-option throw. Lined up at tackle, he had another false start in the third quarter. That’s not the best way to wrestle the starting job away from Ben Powers.
DB Brandon Stephens
Stephens missed time in training camp with a soft-tissue injury, and perhaps he’s still working his way back to full strength. Working primarily against Cardinals reserve wide receiver Andy Isabella, the second-year defensive back wasn’t at his best. On the game’s first play from scrimmage, he was flagged for unnecessary roughness on Dortch after giving a late push out of bounds. A few plays later, he allowed a first-down completion to Isabella on third-and-long. In the third quarter, the speedy Isabella got a step on Stephens on a vertical route, leading to a 37-yard pass-interference penalty. On special teams, he was pancaked on Jonathan Ward’s 48-yard kick return.
Preseason, Week 3
Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV: Ch. 11
Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM