Marlon Humphrey Emerges As One Of NFL's Top Cornerbacks

Todd Karpovich

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey knew his team needed a big play Week 5 against Pittsburgh.

The Steelers had the momentum and were in position for a game-winning drive in overtime.

Steelers rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges threw a short pass to JuJU Smith-Schuster and Humphrey immediately punched the ball from his grasp and recovered the fumble.

That play set  up 46-yard field by Justin Tucker that provided the 26-23 victory.

“Obviously, Marlon Humphrey deserves kudos," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "What an awesome play. You make plays like that in a rivalry like this, in a game that means so much early in the season, I think that’s what big-time players do, right? Big-time players make big-time plays in big games, and that’s what Marlon Humphrey just did.”

Opponents have generally avoided Humphrey's side of the field. Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. got so frustrated with Humphrey's coverage in their Week 4 matchup, he started an altercation. 

Humphrey is ranked as the fifth-best defender passer rating (53.5), breaking up five of the 23 passes targeted at him, entering Week 6.

Overall, the Ravens secondary has struggled, allowing 280 yards per game (29th in the NFL).

They will lean heavily on Humphrey to play better over the coming weeks. 

"His desire to be great with that work ethic," replied Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale when asked what separates Humphrey from other cornerbacks. "And everything he does in practice, you see in games, especially all the good things. But there are some [bad] things that show up in practice, too, that do show up in the games. 

"And when he fixes up that last three percent, then he’s really going to get buzz, which, everything he’s getting right now, he deserves, because he is playing fantastic for us.”