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Ravens' New Playmaking Wide Receivers Make The Difference


When quarterback Joe Flacco saw that the Bills might cover wide receiver Mike Wallace 1-on-1 with a safety, he checked out of a run to a pass.

Wallace saw it too, and his eyes lit up.

"If you have a safety on me, he's dead every time," Wallace said.

Wallace easily sped past safety Aaron Williams and ran under a rainbow bomb from Flacco for a 66-yard touchdown – the biggest play of what was otherwise a defensive game.

Flacco didn't have many – or any – of those options last year. Now with Wallace and speedster Breshad Perriman as two new weapons, Baltimore's offense featured its big-play potential in Sunday's regular-season win.

"We can't give you an exact check, but just know we have a lot of them, and they all could get ugly for anybody at any minute," said Wallace, who was signed this offseason. "We have a lot of guys, our receiver corps is deep."

When Flacco checked to the pass play on Wallace's touchdown, it was an option between throwing to Steve Smith Sr. or Wallace. Flacco at first thought he might have a chance to hit Smith with room to run across the field. But when the Bills doubled Smith, Flacco went deep.

"We made one mistake. That was my fault," Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan said. "We should have doubled on the receiver that caught the touchdown. Instead, we doubled somebody else."

Playing in his first NFL regular-season game, Perriman also made his impact felt. Perriman skied over Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore in the first quarter to make a beautiful 35-yard catch in one-on-one coverage down the left sideline.

The catch set the Ravens up for a 50-yard field goal to give Baltimore the first points of the game.

"When I saw it was one-on-one coverage with me, I knew it was a good possibility that he might come to me, and he did," Perriman said. "I was going to try to catch it over my shoulder and try to score, but the way the ball came I didn't have any other choice but to try to outjump him and I did."

The Ravens' passing offense was out of rhythm for various chunks of the game, Flacco said. But Baltimore's quarterback has often said it's difficult to consistently march down the field without big gains. Flacco was forced to do that all too often last year.

After getting a taste of the big-play potential against the Bills, the Ravens want to take even more chances.

"Those two plays were differences in the game," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "We don't win the game without those two plays. We need more of those plays. We have guys that can do that."

Flacco wasn't exuberant after the game. He's thankful to have the increased number of weapons, but said the Ravens only took advantage of the Bills' "cover zero" defense that dared the offense to go deep on the touchdown to Wallace.

"It was a good start," Flacco said. "You can see what Mike can do."

Last year was difficult for both of the Ravens' deep threats. Perriman missed his entire rookie year due to a training camp knee injury. Wallace had the worst season of his career while in Minnesota, where he caught just 39 passes for 473 yards and two touchdowns.

Perriman said it was "a dream come true" to suit up with his teammates and make a play in his first regular-season game.

Wallace looked at Sunday's breakout as a statement to the rest of the league. The veteran, who finished Sunday's game with a team-high 91 receiving yards on three catches, said the touchdown was "extremely big" for him.

"I haven't had a 50-yard-plus touchdown in three years," Wallace said. "It felt good just to get back to that, just to let them know that we're not dead. A lot of people wrote me off. They think I don't have it, but I've got something for them. … They better get ready, because I'm coming."

Check out the best photos from M&T Bank Stadium as the Ravens battle the Bills in week 1 of the 2016 NFL season!

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