Wal­lace catches first TD with Ravens

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By SEAN GROGAN

sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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.

BAL­TI­MORE

“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

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY SEAN GROGAN

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.

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