In his first game as the Ravens' top tight end, Crockett Gillmore had a chance to play the hero Sunday in Denver.
With Baltimore trailing by six points, the offense came alive behind Gillmore. He started the final drive with a 9-yard reception and extended it with a 14-yard grab on fourth down.
Then, with the game hanging in the balance, quarterback Joe Flacco gave his new starting tight end a chance to win it.
Flacco took a quick drop and lobbed a jump-ball to Gillmore, who had a step on Broncos reserve strong safety David Bruton. Gillmore had a mismatch at 6-foot-6, 270 pounds versus Bruton's 6-foot-2, 217-pound frame.
The two went up and Gillmore had his hands on the ball for a split second before former Ravens safety Darian Stewart came flying over the top to intercept the loose ball.
"I have to come down with that. I was given the opportunity and I just have to come up with the play," Gillmore said. "I have to win the one-on-one part of it, and then when the ball's in the air, it's got to be mine; there is no other option."
The Broncos seemed to have Gillmore scouted for such a play in the red zone.
"I knew they were going to go to their tight end," Bruton said. "He is a big target; he's made plays throughout the preseason. They went to him on the fourth down [earlier on the drive], so I felt like they probably had something. So I was just playing for that."
Bruton never turned his head to look for the ball and face-guarded Gillmore. Gillmore tried to make the grab over top of him.
The fact that it didn't result in a touchdown didn't leave Flacco with regrets about his throw or any doubt about Gillmore making that play going forward. Flacco said he just wanted to give Gillmore a chance to go up and get it.
"It was just one of those plays where you know you got caught down the middle and it's going to be some kind of contested catch. I'll rerun it with him," Flacco said. "I didn't think it would get picked off like that, so that was a pretty good play."
The Ravens are relying on the NFL's youngest group of tight ends this year, and they'll get many more chances.
Gillmore was targeted four times and made two catches for 23 yards. Second-round pick Maxx Williams was targeted twice and made one snag for 15 yards. Fifth-round rookie Nick Boyle was used on offense for eight snaps, per Pro Football Focus, but seven were in run-blocking situations.
It looked like the group was on the verge of delivering a huge Week 1 win as Flacco and Gillmore came charging down the field on the final drive.
"That's the NFL. Two minutes, it's what you do," Gillmore said. "That's what you're paid to do is go win the game. We just didn't make enough plays."
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