NASHVILLE, TENN. — It was the exact type of play the Ravens selected wide receiver Breshad Perriman in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft to make.
Perriman was streaking down the middle of the field on a post-corner route late in the first quarter Sunday. He had a step on a Tennessee Titans defensive back and Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw him the ball in stride. Instead of going up and getting the ball at its highest point, Perriman waited for it to come down.
The ball hit off his hands, Perriman was leveled by cornerback Logan Ryan and Titans safety Kevin Byard picked off the deflection and returned it into Ravens territory.
“I’m, I guess, somewhat of a bigger receiver,” Perriman said after the Ravens’ mistake-filled 23-20 loss at Nissan Stadium. “Those plays like that, where it’s hanging in the air for a long time, you’ve got to go in the air and snatch it.”
The Ravens seemed to make an effort to get Perriman involved after the much-maligned, third-year receiver entered the game with just four catches for 26 yards in seven games. He had been shut out in four of them.
Flacco targeted him seven times and Perriman finished with a season-high three catches for 28 yards. But Perriman let the Ravens and their veteran quarterback down on two key plays in the first half.
The first one was the interception that hit off his hands and landed in the arms of Byard. Three plays after the interception, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota hit Rishard Matthews for a 16-yard touchdown pass and a 10-3 Tennessee lead.
It marked the second time in Perriman’s past three games during which an on-target throw hit off his hands and led to an interception and then a touchdown for the opposition.
“Contested catch turnovers have hurt us,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “We can't have contested catch turnovers for interceptions. It's cost us games.”
Asked whether the interception was the type of play Perriman has to make, Harbaugh said, “Absolutely. All the receivers have to make plays. When you get the ball thrown to you downfield, you have to make plays. He knows that. He made a few plays for us on the sideline.”
Perriman said he knew the pass was coming to him on the play that resulted in the interception. He just wished he made a more aggressive play on the ball.
“I’ve got to go look at it on film, but definitely, you’ve got to go up there and get the ball at the highest point,” Perriman said.
Flacco also targeted Perriman on a deep ball on the Ravens’ first offensive drive. However, the ball was a bit overthrown to the middle of the end zone and Perriman didn’t get two hands free to go after it.
His first catch, an 8-yard reception that came on the Ravens’ next drive, gave the Ravens a first down. But on the next play came the bobble and the interception.
On the Ravens’ next drive, Perriman made a 6-yard reception. But five plays later he had an egregious drop on the sideline on a play that should have been a first down. The Ravens were forced to settle for a 49-yard field goal by Justin Tucker.
“I’ve been there before,” Perriman said about rebounding from a mistake. “You have to put it behind you and keep rolling.”
Perriman did acknowledge that it felt good to be a bigger part of the offense and that playing through some obvious mistakes gave him some confidence.
Harbaugh said that it wasn’t necessarily the game plan to target Perriman more and it was just a matter of Flacco’s reads taking him to the 6-foot-2, 215-pound receiver.
All the Ravens’ receivers got opportunities as Flacco threw the ball 52 times, completing 34 for 261 yards and two touchdowns.
With Michael Campanaro out with a shoulder injury and the Ravens having waived Griff Whalen and Chris Matthews during the week, they had just four receivers active for the game.
Jeremy Maclin led the team with eight catches for 98 yards. Wallace had four catches for 19 yards and a 1-yard touchdown. Chris Moore also had a reception for 16 yards, but that was on a fake punt.
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“We want to get guys involved,” Harbaugh said. “We want to get Breshad involved. We want to get Mike involved. We got Maclin involved quite a bit and we want to continue to do that.”