Some things are worth the wait.
When tight end Nick Boyle dove into the end zone for the first career touchdown in his fifth year in the NFL, it set off a huge reaction from his teammates, who mobbed him in the end zone. The crowd of teammates waiting to celebrate with Boyle was so thick that Lamar Jackson couldn’t even get to him.
Fourth quarter. Against the undefeated Super Bowl champion Patriots. On Sunday Night Football. Doesn’t get much better than that.
“It was cool that all my teammates came up … I think I got more satisfaction out of all them celebrating with me than actually scoring,” Boyle said.
Among the Ravens’ three-headed monster at tight end, Boyle is the one who doesn’t get as much acclaim. Mark Andrews leads Baltimore in receiving. Hayden Hurst is the highly-touted first-round pick.
But inside the Under Armour Performance Center, the Ravens hold Boyle in very high regard. It’s why they made it a priority to keep him on a three-year, reported $18 million contract this offseason.
“Nick is one of our very best players. He does a lot of everything really well, and he deserves it,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh followed up on that sentiment on Monday after watching the film. Not only did Boyle lead the Ravens in catches and targets (five) for 27 yards, but he continued to be a huge part of Baltimore’s blocking game.
The Patriots have a very physical front seven and Boyle felt that in the game, he said. But he matched that physicality and more, helping Baltimore crack New England’s top-ranked defense with 210 rushing yards.
Boyle’s versatility keeps defenses guessing whether a run or pass is coming, and that deception is essential in Baltimore’s rebuilt offense.
“Nick Boyle is probably one of the best all-around tight ends in the league right now,” Harbaugh said. “The tight ends in the league that are the so-called ‘great pass catchers’ or the ‘vertical threats’, they're not blocking like Nick Boyle. I promise you.”
As Harbaugh stated, it’s not that Boyle was ever not a good pass-catcher. The 2015 fifth-round pick out of Delaware has shown good hands and when he gets the ball, he’s a load to bring down. He’s long brought physicality to the Ravens’ running and passing game.
He’s just become a little bigger part of the Ravens’ passing attack this year. Through the first half of the season, Boyle has 17 catches for 172 yards. His previous career highs as a receiver were in 2017 when he caught 28 passes, and last year when he had 213 yards receiving, so he’s on pace to significantly top those marks.
But Sunday’s game and that touchdown, in which Jackson found Boyle open after originally looking the other way, will be one to remember. He’ll have only the memory because the ball is gone.
“I honestly don’t know where it is,” Boyle said. “But that’s all right, though. It’s cool.”