Ravens Tight Ends Flourish Even Without Hayden Hurst, But Nick Boyle Wants His TD


Willie Snead IV owes Nick Boyle a dinner.

In his fourth year, Boyle thought he had his first career touchdown in Sunday's regular-season opener against the Bills. The burly tight end found himself wide open for a 3-yard score. His celebration never got off the ground though, as Boyle immediately saw that the referees threw a penalty flag – offensive pass interference (illegal pick) on Snead.

On the very next play, after being backed up 10 yards, quarterback Joe Flacco fired a dart over the middle for Snead, who fought through a couple hits and extended over the goal line for a touchdown to give the Ravens a 33-0 lead.

Boyle's reaction? "I just looked at [Snead] and he knew," he said. "Whenever the time is right, I guess it's going to happen."

"I was joking with Willie," Flacco said. "I said he knew the second play call. After he committed that [offensive pass interference], he knew he was going to get the ball, and that's why he just set it up on purpose."

Despite the lost touchdown, it was a good day for Boyle and the Ravens tight ends. First-round rookie tight end Hayden Hurst's foot stress fracture was "supposed to" spell doom for Baltimore's ability to use its tight ends as much in the passing attack.

Instead, Boyle, Maxx Williams and rookie third-round pick Mark Andrews combined to make nine catches for 103 yards.

"There was a ton of production by all of us," Andrews said. "Being raining and all, you don't really expect that in this weather. We did a nice job, all three of us. When Hayden gets back, it's going to be dangerous. It's going to be a special group, no doubt about that."

Boyle got the Ravens offense rolling. On the first play of the game, he took a short Flacco dump-off and rumbled 25 yards down the middle of the field. Anyone who bet on Boyle making the Ravens' first catch of the season made a lot of money.

Boyle followed that up with an 11-yard reception over the middle, quickly putting the Ravens in Bills territory in just two plays. Andrews then made an 11-yard grab in the seam to put Baltimore in the red zone.

The drive finished with an Alex Collins 8-yard touchdown run in which Boyle and Williams each had excellent blocks on Bills linebackers, and Collins flashed between right guard Marshal Yanda and right tackle James Hurst.

That drive, in a nutshell, is what's required of the Ravens' tight ends, and they got the job done throughout the day.

"It's really cool," Boyle said. "People ask, like my parents, 'How many balls do you think you'll catch today?' And, the answer is, 'You never know.' I could catch none, or I could catch five, but it's always nice to catch a couple balls and get a couple yards."

Boyle and Williams have carved out more of a blocking role in the Ravens offense, but both continue to show they can be serviceable receivers when needed. In addition to Boyle's catches, Williams and rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson hooked up for a nice 24-yard completion later in the game. Andrews showed in his first NFL regular-season game that he can be the receiving threat he was in college.

"It feels good," Andrews said. "That's why they brought me in here to move the chains on third down."

As for Snead, the new wide receiver promised he didn't commit a penalty just to get his first Ravens touchdown.

"I didn't know the next play was going to be what it was," he said with a laugh. "I feel bad for Nick, but he's going to get another one."

Check out all the action from the Ravens' regular-season opener against the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium.

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