Versatile Taylor gives Ravens offense a spark

Versatile Taylor gives Ravens offense a spark
November 24, 2013, 5:45 pm
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Ravens use all three facets to beat Jets

The Ravens offense has been looking for a spark for weeks, and they got one Sunday from backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

Throwing open the playbook in a must-win game against the New York Jets, the Ravens called Taylor’s number as a runner, a passer and even as a receiver in the Ravens’ grind-it-out, 19-3 win at M&T Bank Stadium that draws the Ravens (5-6) even with the Jets (5-6) in the crowded race for the final AFC playoff spot.

On the Ravens’ second possession, Flacco shifted to line up as a wide receiver, Taylor took the shotgun snap and ran 17 yards on a read-option. That led to the Ravens’ first field goal. Taylor finished with four rushes for 7 yards – two runs later went for big losses – and he threw one pass that fell incomplete. He also had a 6-yard catch from Flacco.

[RELATED: Instant Analysis: Ravens 19, Jets 3]

“We’ve talked about getting Tyrod more involved,” coach John Harbaugh said, who has been singing that tune since training camp. But until Sunday, Taylor had played in just one game, a cameo role against Cincinnati two weeks ago. 

“He’s a quarterback. I want to emphasize that,” Harbaugh added. “But he’s also got other skills that he can help us with. … We didn’t do much of it throughout the course of the season, but we felt like it was something that could really help our run game, especially against this defense.”

Taylor’s 17-yard run was the longest of the day against the Jets’ No. 1-ranked run defense.

The Jets, incidentally, played that game too, using return specialist Josh Cribbs as a Wildcat quarterback several times, beginning with the opening series. 

“I felt really good out there, try to make a couple plays, spark the offense a little bit at times, and throw the defense off,” said Taylor, who appeared in six games last season. “It wasn’t perfect, but there were some positives in there that we can build from.”

That included his first career reception, a 6-yard gain in the third quarter.

[More: Ravens rattle Geno in win over Jets]

When asked about the catch, a smiling Taylor said, “I’m a quarterback, but if I gotta make a play, I make a play.

With Taylor on the field, Flacco split out wide, and Taylor either kept it himself or handed off. His only pass bounced off the hands of tight end Ed Dickson and fell incomplete.

“We hit that every day this week (in practice),” Dickson said. “We just didn’t connect on it. I was kind of down on that one, but I told Tyrod to keep playing as hard as he does. He’s definitely a spark for us when he comes in.”

Harbaugh declined to say whether the Taylor look is something the Ravens might show more often in the future, but several Ravens said they like what Taylor brings to the offense.

“The more you can do on offense, the better,” receiver Torrey Smith said. “Tyrod is really a weapon. He can really do a lot of things on the football field, when you have a guy like that , you really have to figure out a way to use him.”