Because he played at Hoover High School and Alabama, cornerback Marlon Humphrey knows something about football rivalries. Now a member of the Baltimore Ravens, Humphrey is part of one of the NFL’s best. On the other side are the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Ravens and the Steelers square off again at 7:20 p.m. CDT Sunday. NBC will televise the AFC North game.
“The main thing I learned,” Humphrey said of his first taste of the Ravens-Steelers as a rookie last year, “is that it’s definitely a rivalry game. It’s definitely two teams that really want to win, and, I feel like, two fan bases that really want to beat the other fan base.
“It’s a really good game. It’s definitely going to be intense, so I’m excited.”
Heinz Field in Pittsburgh will host Sunday night’s game. Humphrey made the second start of his NFL career there last season, when the Steelers edged the Ravens 39-38 after trailing by 11 points entering the fourth quarter. The rivalry has historically produced nail-biters with 18 of the past 24 meetings decided by a touchdown or less.
“I think if you can kind of play there, you can kind of play anywhere,” Humphrey said on Wednesday. “Very loud stadium. A lot of energy in there — I guess a lot of negative energy towards the Ravens, so it’s definitely a tense place. I definitely enjoy away stadiums as opposed to home stadiums, so I’m definitely excited to go back there and, hopefully, get a win.”
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In the Steelers’ 39-38 victory, Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown caught 11 passes for 213 yards — the second 200-yard game of the four-time All-Pro’s career.
“Going up against A.B., he’s arguably the best in the game,” Humphrey said. “A guy like that, he doesn’t really get tired. You watch him on film, he’ll run his route. ‘Big Ben’ (Roethlisberger) starts scrambling, he just turns upfield, runs around, and he’s just a guy that you can tell is in probably some of the best shape out of any receivers you play against. He doesn’t seem to get tired. He’s on one side of the field, on the other side of the field, going in motion, going on a sweep, getting a screen, so he does so much. He’s a guy that you have to be aware of. …
“It’s kind of a guy that down the line, you’ll look back and say that you were going against some of the best, and you can only know how good you are when you go against the best.”
What’s Humphrey’s plan for slowing down Brown on Sunday night?
“You just go out there, use your skill set, your God-given talent, and try to execute,” Humphrey said.
“He’s a top-notch athlete and really good player,” Tomlin said. “Scouted him a lot when he came out, had a lot respect for his talents, and he appears to be off to a great start in his career.”
Humphrey has started all three games this season and has been on the field for 198 of the Ravens’ 208 defensive snaps. He’s made 11 tackles and broken up five passes as Baltimore has won two of its three games — sandwiching a 34-23 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals with a 47-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills and a 27-14 victory over the Denver Broncos.
“Marlon is just playing really well,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said on Wednesday. “His technique is good, very fundamentally sound, attention to detail. He can run, plays the ball very well – all the things a corner does. He’ll tackle.
“I just think he’s growing as a player.”
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @AMarkG1.