Marlon Humphrey’s injury is the Ravens biggest loss of this cruel season

Marlon Humphrey, Ravens (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Marlon Humphrey, Ravens (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

At least the run was nice while it lasted. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey‘s season-ending injury in Week 13 seemingly all but spells the end of the Baltimore Ravens’ 2021 season.

The Ravens lost against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a decisive division matchup, but their biggest loss by far that game was Marlon Humphrey, who suffered a pectoral muscle tear that will require surgery. Humphrey has been officially ruled out for the rest of the 2021 season.

Humphrey got hurt on one of Pittsburgh’s last offensive plays, when Ben Roethlisberger targeted wide receiver Diontae Johnson in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

The veteran cornerback lunged at Johnson, attempting to get a hand on the ball, but his outstretched arm hit Johnson at an awkward angle, causing the tear.

John Harbaugh and others can talk all they want of that “next-man-up” mentality, but it doesn’t work so well when the Ravens have nearly no one left.

Had it been anyone else, the Ravens may not have so much reason to worry. But Marlon Humphrey? Sound the emergency alarm.

The two-time Pro Bowl cornerback is without a doubt Baltimore’s most experienced and talented defender, the Mr. Miyagi of the cornerback room, so to speak.

Humphrey has the size, speed, and athleticism to defend opposing teams’ No. 1 wide receivers, and his looming presence in the backfield has been felt like no other.

The Ravens may not recover from Marlon Humphrey’s injury in 2021

In 12 starts this season, Humphrey has recorded 58 tackles, 13 passes defended, one forced fumble, and one interception. Since being drafted as the 16th overall pick in 2017, Humphrey is one of two NFL players with at least 50 career passes broken up and 10 career forced fumbles.

One could imagine how losing Marcus Peters could be the biggest blow, or perhaps J.K. Dobbins, or even Ronnie Stanley.

Those injuries were brutal, but they also occurred earlier in the season, when the Ravens were afforded the time to find some makeshift solution to their depleting roster.

But Humphrey’s season-ending injury in Week 13 comes at a time when Harbaugh has run out of options and when the Ravens’ tank is practically empty.

Even with Humphrey in the defense, the stats don’t look good.

Baltimore has been allowing an average of 272.4 passing yards per game, ranked second-worst in the league. They also have to face three of the most elite NFL quarterbacks — Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and Joe Burrow — in the final stretch of the regular season.

Hills have turned into mountains, and without Humphrey, Baltimore realistically can’t rely on anyone in the cornerback unit moving forward.

Anthony Averett will keep his starting spot, but he’s been the weak link of the backfield anyway. Chris Westry, if healthy, should return for Week 14’s game against the Cleveland Brown, as should Kevon Seymour.

Next. 5 free agents the Ravens could sign to replace Marlon Humphrey. dark

No one can fill Humphrey’s shoes, not at this point in the season and maybe not for a long, long time. His loss hits the hardest and may serve as the appropriate (but nonetheless, cruel) bookend to the Ravens’ unlucky and injury-plagued 2021 season.