Geno Stone's interception of Joe Burrow at the goal line changed Sunday's game, but it hasn't saved him from some ribbing in the locker room.
The Bengals were threatening to take the lead on the opening drive of the second half. Instead, Stone leapt in front of Tee Higgins and returned the pick 36 yards. Four plays later, the Ravens scored a touchdown to open a 10-point lead.
After the game, Head Coach John Harbaugh presented Stone with a game ball. Frankly, it was the biggest play of Stone's four-year career to this point.
"It means a lot to me," Stone said. "It means a lot that these coaches trust me and put me in the position to be where I am right now. I've got a lot of trust in my guys, and my guys have got a lot of trust in me. So, I'm just happy I was out there and able to make the plays I could for this team and help them win."
It didn't take long, however, for Stone's teammates to start giving him a hard time. That's how it works on an NFL team with as much chemistry as the Ravens.
If he had cut back across the field at the end of the interception, could Stone have had a pick-six? He had blockers in front for what could have been a 98-yarder.
"I've got to watch the film. Everyone keeps saying that, so yes, I probably should have cut it back," Stone said with a smile in the locker room. "But all the time, when they talk about return, they say, hit the sideline. So, I hit the sideline, but it wasn't open for me."
Well, the film doesn't lie.
Stone has regrets …
Stone's only other career interception came in 2021 when he picked off Ben Roethlisberger in his final regular-season game. As he stepped in for injured Marcus Williams (pectoral) this season, Stone vowed to make more plays than last year, when he didn't get an interception in seven starts.
Stone said he was due, in part because he had a "slow" week of practice leading into the game. While his teammates are enjoying giving Stone a hard time, his adversaries respected the play.
"A really good play by him, good disguise," Burrow said.
"Geno Stone made a great play with the pick," Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor added. "Stone did a good job holding on the snap, and then when Joe's eyes came, he popped over. It's a veteran safety making a good play."