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In race to be Ravens backup QB, an uneven start for Tyler Huntley and Trace McSorley in preseason win over Saints

When Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley was out on the field during Saturday night’s preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints, he wasn’t focused on the competition between him and Trace McSorley to be Lamar Jackson’s backup.

“I don’t think about it at all,” Huntley said. “We’re just playing football.”

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Though it wasn’t an eye-popping performance, Huntley had a solid night, scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter to lead the Ravens past the Saints, 17-14. The 2020 undrafted free agent finished the game 12-for-16 with 79 passing yards, 43 rushing yards and a passer rating of 85.2.

“Tyler came in and just played tremendous football,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He made plays running, throwing [and] just did a great job.”

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Meanwhile, McSorley, who started the game, said that his back locked up on him earlier in the day and he needed trainers to help him loosen up. McSorley, a sixth-round draft pick in 2019, couldn’t get anything going on offense in the first quarter, as he recorded 1 passing yard.

“Trace was dealing with a little back spasm issue so I think that limited his ability to move around pocket and run around,” Harbaugh said. “But he made some good throws.”

In the second quarter, McSorley started to gain some rhythm, going 6-for-8 on the Ravens’ first drive, which led to a 42-yard field goal by Jake Verity. He connected with receiver Devin Duvernay on a 15-yard pass down the middle, followed by a 17-yard throw to Jaylon Moore. During the final minute of the second quarter, McSorley’s pass to Duvernay was picked off by Bryce Thompson.

“I feel pretty good right now,” McSorley said. “Trying to keep it loose and see where we go from there.”

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Ravens quarterback Trace McSorley on having back spasms before the Saints game, but was able get treatment and play in the game.

McSorley finished the game 11-for-18 with 86 yards, an interception and a 49.8 passer rating. The former Penn State star ran the ball four times for 25 yards.

Both quarterbacks had to deal with constant pressure from the Saints defense. The Ravens’ offensive line had a hard time providing a formidable wall to allow Huntley and McSorley to survey the field. At times, the Saints simply overpowered the Ravens’ offensive line, forcing Huntley and McSorley to use their legs to escape the pocket or buy time to throw. In the Ravens’ opening possession of the fourth quarter, Huntley was strip-sacked by Saints safety Eric Burrell. The fumble earned a conversation with Harbaugh on the sideline.

On the Ravens’ next possession, Huntley was able to get the upper hand. The former Utah standout completed four consecutive passes to put the Ravens in scoring position. Huntley launched a 17-yard pass down the left side of the field to Binjimen Victor before weaving through the middle of the Saints’ defensive line for a touchdown, which had Lamar Jackson jumping on the sidelines.

“It’s just like joy,” Huntley. “You’re playing the game you love.”

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh talks about quarterbacks Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley and their performance against the Saints.

Huntley said after the game that he feels confident in his ability to use his legs to make plays. Huntley showcased his speed on the Ravens’ third drive of the third quarter, when he scrambled for 9 yards and then broke loose for an 11-yard gain a few plays later.

The absence of Jackson for a good chunk of training camp because of a positive COVID-19 test allowed the Ravens to get a closer look at the competition brewing at the backup quarterback position. Even though Huntley and McSorley looked solid during different parts of the evening, neither delivered a performance that would set them apart heading into the final two preseason games.

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