Having spent most of his career in Baltimore, Arizona Cardinals linebacker Terrell Suggs reacts to playing in the stadium that he once called home.
When Arizona Cardinals linebacker Terrell Suggs arrived at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, he wasn’t entirely prepared for what it would be like to play against his old team in front of the passionate fans who supported him for the past 16 seasons.
“The emotions kind of started when we got to the stadium," Suggs said soon after the Ravens spoiled his Baltimore homecoming with a 23-17 victory. “It was a very unfamiliar feeling. It was kind of like being a stranger in your own home.”
When the time came to take the field, those emotions mixed with the usual game-time adrenaline rush to produce a feeling that Suggs said he had never experienced before.
“It was bittersweet," he said. "It’s good to be back and it was good to play in the stadium that I played in for the majority of my career. It was definitely the weirdest thing I’ve ever been a part of. It’s unfortunate. I wanted to win, but it was good to be back.”
Of course it was strange. The stands were heavily populated with fans of all ages wearing No. 55 Ravens jerseys and experiencing the same mixed feelings as Suggs.
“It was very humbling," he said. “It felt good to feel the love, but I understood the business at hand. They wanted to show their appreciation, but they were still cheering against me.”
If Suggs hoped to be a game-changer on a day when his team was a double-digit underdog, he would have to settle for being part of a resilient performance by the Cardinals that kept those Ravens fans on edge until the final two minutes of the game.
He made one solo tackle and assisted in two others, but did not register a sack against former teammate Lamar Jackson.
The Cardinals defense held its own against a Ravens offense that scored 59 points last week and has been advertised as “revolutionary," but Jackson lit up the stat sheet with a balanced performance that included 120 rushing yards and 272 yards through the air.
Suggs complimented Jackson’s effort and the overall performance of the Ravens offense, but said it didn’t look all that different from the one he practiced against throughout the second half of last season.
“It was pretty much what I saw the last half of last year when Lamar took over," he said. "When we went against him [in practice], he was pretty much doing the same thing he’s doing now, but he’s throwing the ball better now, clearly.
“He made a lot of plays with his feet. He ran for over 100 yards today and threw for 200-plus yards and couple of touchdowns. He’s playing NFL quarterback. He’s a phenomenal athlete. It was good to see him grow.”
The Ravens did not do anything special to recognize Suggs before the game, but — while the clock was winding down at the end — put a list of his accomplishments on the video board next to a live shot of him on the field so fans could pay tribute.
“I really wasn’t concerned about that," he said. "I was really trying to be the best player I can for my team — trying to make the big play and help us win. I felt it at the end, but unfortunately, the clock was running out. Congratulations to them, but going forward, we’ve got to do a better job of starting fast.”
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was just 6 years old when Suggs made his NFL debut in 2003, but he said all the younger players on the team were well aware of the significance of his return to Baltimore.
“You’ve just got to respect it," Murray said. “He’s one of the greatest players to ever play the game, being here for 16 years, coming back home to play for the Cardinals. He gave us a little speech last night at the hotel so, yeah, everybody knew what was at stake and how bad we wanted to win for him.”
Ravens offensive lineman Orlando Brown, Jr., talks about facing former teammate Terrell Suggs and the Cardinals pass rushers.