Ravens rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman made his long-awaited NFL debut in a 34-6 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday afternoon, and even though it was a small sample size, Bateman was impressive in his time on the field.
“It was an incredible, fun experience,” he said. “The Ravens Flock made the atmosphere special, but I think my teammates made it more special. They’ve always had my back through it all, and because of them, I was comfortable and was able to go out and perform. It was fun.”
Bateman, a first-round draft pick out of Minnesota, had four catches for 29 yards while averaging 7.3 yards per catch. Bateman’s first career reception came in the second quarter when he caught a 6-yard pass from quarterback Lamar Jackson for a first down. His next three catches also moved the chains.
Bateman’s best play of the afternoon came during the Ravens’ first drive of the third quarter. On a first-and-10 at the Chargers’ 31-yard line, Jackson threw a short pass to Bateman, who stiff-armed Chargers defensive back Asante Samuel Jr. and spun away for a first down.
“[Bateman] looked pretty good for his first game back — his first NFL game,” Jackson said. “He was making tough catches. He did great.”
Bateman’s debut had to wait until Sunday, as he was out for the first five games with a groin injury he suffered in during a training camp practice in August that required surgery. He opened the season on injured reserve.
The only blunder in Bateman’s debut came in the fourth quarter. The Ravens faced a third-and-6 with 6:38 remaining when Jackson’s pass to Bateman bounced out of his hands and got picked off by Chargers linebacker Kyzir White.
“That’s the one he’ll probably learn the most from, but he was good,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He made some key first-down catches. I liked that he caught it, put it away, and got straight upfield. It’s a simple thing, but in the NFL, it’s not an easy thing to learn, and he did a great job of that.”
Bateman said he couldn’t put into words what it was like playing alongside Jackson, who finished 19-for-27 with 167 passing yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
“I’ve looked up to him even before I got to college, and while he was in college,” Bateman said. “It was an honor going out there and playing alongside him, and I’m looking forward to it for some time to come.”
Elliott stands out in his first game back from injury
Ravens safety DeShon Elliott was all smiles after his performance against the Chargers. After missing two games with a quad injury, Elliott was one of many bright spots within the Ravens’ defense that held the Chargers to six points.
Elliott finished the game with three tackles, a sack, two pass deflections and recorded his first career interception.
“He does bring a lot of energy,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a veteran guy, and he does notch things up a little bit from an intensity standpoint.”
Elliott’s interception came in the second quarter. With the Ravens up 17-0 with 4:38 on the clock, Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert threw a pass down the middle towards tight Jared Cook, but Elliott managed to jump the route and grab the ball.
When Elliott was asked about the interception, he pulled down his mask and smiled.
“It felt great, man,” he said. “[It’s] a long time coming. I was dealing with a lot of adversity last year — the last couple of years — so it’s a blessing to finally get my first one. Hopefully, God blesses me with a lot more.”
Elliott battled injuries during the first two years of his NFL career. He missed his entire rookie season in 2018 after fracturing his forearm during a preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. In 2019, Elliott played in six games before being placed on IR with a knee injury. Elliott played 16 games in 2020, but the injury bug crept up once again this season.
Elliott suffered a concussion against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2. After being cleared to play the following week against the Detroit Lions, Elliott injured his quad, which caused him to miss two straight games.
“After the concussion, I was trying to go out there and play, and then I went out there and strained my quad,” he said. “You can only do what you can do. That’s God’s timing. Whenever you’re ready to go, [God is] going to let you go.”
Elliott said he loves to blitz, and he got his opportunity in the first quarter when he charged toward Herbert and brought the second-year quarterback down on third down to force the Chargers to punt.
“We do a lot of blitzing,” Elliott said. “Sometimes we’ll be like, ‘Dang, we’re always blitzing,’ but shoot, it worked. We love Coach ‘Wink,’ and we respect everything he does, and no matter what he calls, we’re going to play it.”
The Ravens’ pass defense was rigid overall, as they held Herbert in check the entire afternoon. He finished 22-for-39 with 195 yards, a touchdown and a pick. The Ravens’ defense was on point, particularly on third down, as the Chargers went 3-for-12 on third-down conversions and 1-for-4 on fourth down.
“Great communication,” Elliott said. “I think we just went out there and played Ravens football, played the way we know we can play — every down, one play at a time, one series at a time — and handle the series of events.”