Mike Wallace is never shy about telling his coaches, teammates, media members, fans – anyone within earshot, really – what he's capable of doing when he gets the ball in his hands.
The dynamic receiver can change a game with one play, and he showed that in Sunday's 44-20 win over the Detroit Lions. Wallace hauled in a 66-yard catch to put the Ravens at the 1-yard line early in the second quarter, and the offense punched it in for a touchdown pass to Benjamin Watson on the very next play.
The score set off Baltimore's best offensive outing of the season, as the unit carried the Ravens to a critical December victory to improve to 7-5 on the season.
"Mike Wallace really kicked us off," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
The Ravens seemed to come into the game intent on taking some deep shots to Wallace. Quarterback Joe Flacco missed on a long ball to Wallace on the fourth play of the game, but he continued to look in the direction of the speedy receiver throughout the first half.
"We thought we could get that," Flacco said. "It definitely was key."
Wallace and Flacco had both been vocal in recent weeks about the offense needing to play better. Baltimore has leaned heavily on the defense to win games throughout the year, but the Ravens have believed since this summer that the deep passing game would be a critical ingredient in the team's recipe for success.
They turned to Wallace to deliver it Sunday, and he gave the Ravens exactly what they needed. The big play came with the Ravens up 3-0 after Detroit kicker Matt Prater missed a 43-yard field goal. Flacco hit Wallace on the very next play, and suddenly the Ravens came to life.
"I just want to make spark plays," Wallace said. "That does so much for the team, people just don't even know. It does a lot for the fans. It does a lot for everybody. It's just excitement. Excitement happens when you make plays like that."
M&T Bank Stadium was buzzing after the score, and the defense seemed to feed off the energy. Safety Eric Weddle came up with a strip-sack on quarterback Matthew Stafford on the ensuing possession, and suddenly the Ravens had a 17-0 lead.
"You can feel the energy in the stadium when you get going like that," Flacco said.
Wallace did more than just catch the long pass to setup the touchdown. He finished the game with five receptions for 116 yards, and he also made an impressive 23-yard grab along the sideline to set up Baltimore's second touchdown. That play was initially ruled incomplete, but Harbaugh challenged it and the officials overturned the call on the field.
The strong day from the 31-year-old receiver was an example of what the Ravens can become offensively when they're connecting on the deep passing game, and they hope to stay in rhythm going into the final four games of the regular season.
"Today we made strides and this game is about peaking at the right time, so hopefully we can do that," Wallace said.
Check out the best photos from M&T Bank Stadium as the Ravens battle the Lions in week 13!