"Odell [Beckham] made some amazing plays out there," said Ravens safety Eric Weddle. "You have to credit him. We held him down the first half." (Baltimore Sun video)
Ravens rookie cornerback Tavon Young knew his responsibility on the play. Matched up with New York Giants star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on the outside, Young couldn't let Beckham get inside of him, where he had no help in the middle of the field.
Things went bad for Young almost immediately. Beckham shrugged off his jam attempt just past the line of scrimmage and got inside positioning. As Young tried to get in front of Beckham, he ran into safety Eric Weddle, leaving the cornerback on the ground and Beckham all alone. That was all Giants quarterback Eli Manning needed.
Beckham's 66-yard touchdown reception on fourth-and-1 with just 1:24 remaining provided the winning points for the Giants in a 27-23 victory, and was emblematic of the Ravens secondary's woes after top cornerback Jimmy Smith suffered a concussion in the second quarter.
"I'll take the blame for it," said Young, a fourth-round pick who also was beaten on Roger Lewis Jr.'s 24-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter. "I've got to make the play, make more plays."
Young had an interception, his second of the season, but that hardly eased the sting of Beckham's big play late in the game. Adding injury to insult, Young also got banged up on the play when he was clipped by Weddle, who was running out to the flat to provide cover on Giants tight end Larry Donnell.
"We were in man. We had low-hole help, post help. It's just a simple combination," Weddle said. "The tight end goes to the flat I got over the top. [Young] was behind a little bit. I clipped him. In that situation, you shouldn't be getting inside. One of those outside receivers should be inside. But hey, Odell made some amazing plays out there. You have to credit him."
The Ravens held Beckham to just two catches for 11 yards in the first half, but that was largely with Smith and No. 3 corner Jerraud Powers on the field. Neither returned after halftime, forcing the Ravens to rely on reserve corners Shareece Wright, Will Davis and Young.
Beckham exploded in the second half, with six catches for 211 yards and two touchdowns. On his first score, Beckham beat Davis with a double move and outraced Weddle to the end zone for a 75-yard score.
The Ravens overcame that touchdown and even led 23-20 with just over two minutes to play after Terrance West's second touchdown run. But they were unable to answer Beckham's second touchdown.
After Young and Weddle were taken out of the play, safety Lardarius Webb didn't take a good angle on Beckham, and three Ravens futilely chased the Giants receiver, who was untouched on the play.
"We have guys who are fully capable of covering guys out there," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We've done it all year. But we don't have our eyes in the right spot all the time. So I want disciplined guys back there, and those are the guys that are going to play going forward."
Beckham said the touchdown was the result of an audible by Manning at the line of scrimmage.
"He had a play on and saw some different coverages that you can't mess with," Beckham said. "He changed the play and put me in a perfect position to run a slant. I catch it and see one safety angling to the right. I know that for someone to be able to open their hips and run at the same time to run me down, they're going to be very fast. I went left, and it all worked out."
Before Sunday, Young had been one of the team's standouts for his ability to match up in the slot and contribute on defense and special teams. But he faltered Sunday when the Ravens needed one more defensive play to preserve a victory.
"It's just technique. I guess my technique wasn't good enough on that play, so I've just got to improve next week. We're coming back next week, and I'm going to come back harder," Young said. "You've got to move on. Next man up. You've got to have that mindset. Be a dog. That's what it's got to be."