Wallace catches first TD with Ravens
— The Baltimore Ravens had a run play called.
Facing a third-and-1 early in the second quarter, running back Terrance West was lined up to the left of Joe Flacco expecting a handoff. But Flacco spotted something.
He noticed that the Buffalo Bills didn’t have a safety deep in anticipation of a short-yardage run. He saw Bills safety Duke Williams lined up across from wide receiver Mike Wallace.
Flacco changed the play at the line of scrimmage.
The result was a 66-yard pass from Flacco to Wallace for Baltimore’s only touchdown of Sunday’s 13-7 win.
“Joe just checked the play. We have a veteran quarterback that has been around for so long and has been in every situation. He knows the right thing to do every time,” Wallace said. “On that play, you have a lot of different options – I just got the right coverage. Steve [Smith Sr.] did a great job – he ran across the field and the safety ran with him. I was oneon-one with the other safety, and if you have a safety on me, he’s dead every time.”
The play began at the Baltimore 34-yard line. Flacco hit Wallace in stride at the opposite 34. He turned and stiff-armed Williams before crossing into the left side of the end zone.
Wallace fired the football at the wall behind the end zone. His excitement couldn’t be contained as the sold-out M&T Bank Stadium crowd erupted.
Flacco called the pass an “easy throw” set up by Wallace’s speed.
“It felt good to watch him go into the end zone,” Flacco said. “It was just part of the plan. They were playing ‘cover zero;’ they didn’t have any safeties there. I have a handful of things I can go to, but I really don’t think I checked into that specific thing all week. I thought they might double Steve, and if they did, I wanted to give [Wallace] a chance to really win a matchup.”
The touchdown was Wallace’s second reception as a Raven. He hauled in a 16yard catch in the first quarter and had a 9-yard grab in the fourth. His Baltimore debut featured three catches for 91 yards – an average of more than 30 yards per reception.
The Ravens also ran a reverse to Wallace on their final possession. He picked up 11 yards for a crucial first down that helped Baltimore run out the clock.
The Ravens moved the chains all four times Wallace touched the ball.
Wallace signed with Baltimore this offseason in hopes of resurrecting a career that began with him as one of the NFL’s top deep threats. He was considered to be among the best receivers in the league during his early years in Pittsburgh.
But since leaving the Steelers, Wallace hasn’t matched that success. He spent two years with the Miami Dolphins before playing last season with the Vikings. Wallace recorded a careerlow 437 receiving yards in Minnesota.
Flacco’s arm strength attracted Wallace to Baltimore and the 30-year old veteran proved he still has the speed to beat defenders down field. If Sunday is any sign of things to come, the pairing is a match made in heaven.
“I probably haven’t had a 50-plus-yard touchdown in three years. It felt good just to get back to that, just to let them know that we’re not dead,” Wallace said. “A lot of people wrote me off. They think I don’t have it, but I’ve got something for them. I told you all from Day 1, nothing’s going to change. We’re just going to keep pounding and pounding and pounding. They better get ready, because I’m coming.”
Follow Sean Grogan on Twitter: @Sean_CecilWhig
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace caught three passes in his debut against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, including a 66-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Joe Flacco.