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How John Urschel Became A Receiver


By now, everybody knows John Urschel properly signaled to referee Ronald Torbert and it was simply missed.

But nobody has heard from the offensive lineman who caught the pass, nor gotten the story of how he ended up in that position.

The last time a Ravens offensive lineman caught a pass on a designed play was Jonathan Ogden in 2003. It went for a 1-yard touchdown.

How did the Ravens tab Urschel as the lineman with good enough hands to pull it off again?

"Have you not seen me before?" Urschel joked. "I don't know, but somebody must have seen something. If the coaches say, 'John, you've got to catch a pass,' well I've got news for you, I'll be working on my hands."

Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman seemed to joke when asked about Urschel, the Ravens' resident math whiz. But maybe not?

"John threw an equation on the board that none of us could compute," Trestman said. "He made a mathematical decision that he was the best guy for the job, and since we couldn't understand it, we just threw him out there. That's all I can say."

Urschel entered the game and lined up as if he were the left tackle. The Ravens moved Kelechi Osemele to right guard and Marshal Yanda outside of right tackle Rick Wagner as another blocker on an unbalanced line. Urschel acted as if he was going to block, and when Cardinals outside linebacker Markus Golden dropped in coverage, Urschel drifted out into the flats.

Urschel said he wasn't nervous making the catch, although he's never had a pass thrown his way (not in high school, college or the pros). It wasn't an easy one either, as he had to be pretty nimble and flip his hips to haul it in. Urschel secured it at the 16-yard line.

There were 16 yards for the 6-foot-3, 305-pound blocker to rumble to get into the end zone. A math whiz like Urschel should know that doesn't compute to seven points, yet Urschel had visions of scoring a touchdown.

"Oh, I saw the end zone," he said with a laugh. "It wasn't that far. I almost made it there."

Not really though.

"There were prospects," Urschel contested. "I was running down the field and I was analyzing. I just tried to truck a guy and he somehow managed to get me down."

Urschel said he knew he wasn't going to try to juke out Golden, who quickly redirected once dropping in coverage. Tackle* *Eugene Monroe tried to dive and take out Golden, but ended up blocking him right into Urschel's lowering shoulder.

Golden wrapped up Urschel and spun him down for a 6-yard gain. Urschel contests that he actually gained 7 yards.

"I trucked him, kinda," Urschel said. "I saw elements of trucking."

Urschel got up, had trouble finding someone to give the ball to, and jogged off the field with a big smile evident behind his mouth guard. He gave a little fist pump for the Monday Night Football cameras.

"I was so stoked. I was so happy … for about 10 seconds," he said.

The rest is well documented. The referees claimed Urschel never reported as eligible, although the tape clearly shows otherwise. The Ravens were penalized 5 yards and faced a first-and-15 from the 18 instead of a second-and-5 from the 8.

Despite the obvious referee error, Urschel still felt sick about the play.

"All I can do is look at myself and say, 'What can I do better?'" he said. "Maybe I should have gone up to him and tapped the guy. I need to take that responsibility."

Now all Urschel can do is make up for it in the future. Any chance Ravens fans will see Urschel lined up in the slot?

"You're just going to have to ask the coaches about that one," Urschel said with a chuckle.

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