Wide receiver Devin Duvernay is proving to be a reliable playmaker for the Ravens this season, and Sunday’s 37-26 victory over the New England Patriots was yet another example.
In the middle of the third quarter, Duvernay returned a punt 43 yards before making a beautiful 4-yard touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone that gave the Ravens a 28-20 advantage. Through three games, Duvernay has more touchdown receptions (three) than his first two seasons combined (two).
“Dude continues to do it,” coach John Harbaugh said.
Duvernay only has eight catches this season, but he has shown that he doesn’t need a lot of receptions to be productive. The 2020 third-round draft pick entered Sunday ranking 16th in the NFL in yards per reception, totaling 121 yards while averaging 15.1 per catch.
On Sunday, Duvernay only had two catches for 25 yards, but his 21-yard reception over the middle proved to be a crucial play during a 75-yard touchdown drive that gave the Ravens a 21-20 lead early in the third quarter.
“In Year 3, that’s usually, for wide receivers, the year that you’re going to be counted on,” receivers coach Tee Martin said during minicamp in June. “And so, he took his route running to the next level. He’s always had good hands, he’s always been a dependable receiver as far as catching the ball for us. He took the running after the catch to the next level.”
Heading into the season, Duvernay wanted to show he was more than just a special teams ace after being named to his first Pro Bowl and an All-Pro as a returner. “I just come out in practice and show them that I’m a very capable wide receiver and can help this team win,” he said in June.
Duvernay wanted to fly around the field and make plays, and he has done that thus far, using game-breaking speed in the return game and incredible balance and reliable hands as a receiver.
A week after he returned the opening kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins, Duvernay burst down the right sideline for a 43-yard punt return with 6:33 left in the third quarter Sunday, making several Patriots miss before getting pushed out of bounds by punter Jake Bailey.
He became the beneficiary of his own big play. On third-and-goal from the Patriots’ 4 with 4:47 left in the third, quarterback Lamar Jackson lofted a pass into the back corner of the end zone that Duvernay caught over defensive back Myles Bryant while keeping both feet in bounds. It was the kind of acrobatic touchdown catch that might make Duvernay a go-to target for Jackson in the red zone this season.
Baltimore Ravens Insider
“He’s mad about a couple other ones that I thought were still pretty darned good plays,” Harbaugh said. “I told him, you made two plays there, and he goes, ‘The punt return doesn’t count.’ I thought it was pretty good. He looked hemmed in, guys made some blocks, he got up the sideline.”
Whether Duvernay was pleased about his performance or not, he has become a valuable weapon for this Ravens offense.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
TV: Chs. 13, 9
Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM