Ryan Mallett Takes Command In First Ravens Start


As the final seconds ticked off the clock in Sunday's 20-17 upset victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, quarterback Ryan Mallett had a pack of teammates headed his way. They swarmed Mallett to offer their congratulations for how he led the team to a victory in his first start as a Raven.

Right guard Marshal Yanda patted him on the back. Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman hugged him at midfield. Countless other players ran by to give a high-five or a fist bump.

The whole exchange made Mallett look like someone who had been in Baltimore for years, not 12 days.

"It's very emotional," Mallett said minutes after the victory. "Being part of this organization is by far my favorite [team] so far. The people around here care about you as a football player and as a person." 

Mallett was stellar in his Baltimore debut.

He completed 28 of his 41 passes for 274 yards and a touchdown. He protected the football (zero turnovers), moved the offense and showed strong command of a system that he had less than two weeks to learn.

Mallett became the fourth quarterback to start a game this year for the Ravens, and he provided the offense with the best spark since the season-ending knee injury to starter Joe Flacco in Week 11.

"His poise today was unbelievable," wide receiver Kamar Aiken said. "He definitely had total command of the offense today. He was our leader there in the huddle. He talked throughout the whole game to make sure guys were upbeat, and he led the whole way today."

Mallett, who has put in long hours at the Under Armour Performance Center the last two weeks, always looked in control against Baltimore's biggest rival. He got the Ravens to the line of scrimmage quickly and the Ravens even put him in no-huddle situations.

Mallett also took advantage of his full allotment of targets, spreading the ball around to seven different players throughout the game. He took deep shots and also dumped down to his running backs when the coverage called for it.

Head Coach John Harbaugh called it "remarkable" that Mallett was able to step in and play with that kind of demeanor after being in Baltimore for such a short period of time.

"To operate the way he did, change plays at the line the way he did, I think it just says a lot about him, but it says a lot about our coaches as well," Harbaugh said. "This kid was in there 24/7. This kid was in the staff meetings at night."

Mallett showed from the start that he came ready to play in a game where the Ravens were two-score underdogs.

In his first drive as a Raven, he marched the offense down the field for a 75-yard touchdown drive in 15 plays. He converted four third downs on the drive, including an 8-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Matthews.

He followed up that touchdown with field-goal drives on two of the next three series, and the Ravens went into halftime with a 13-3 lead.

"Any time you start a game, you want to go down and score, but I think that got us going on the right foot," Mallett said.

In the second half, he showed resiliency. The Ravens went scoreless in the third quarter and the Steelers closed the lead to three points. Mallett then locked in on the opening series of the fourth quarter and orchestrated a five-play touchdown drive.

Mallett is known for his big arm, and perhaps his best pass of the day came on that fourth-quarter drive where he hit speedster Chris Givens perfectly in stride for a 39-yard gain down the sidelines to jump-start the series.

He put that big arm on display throughout the afternoon by flinging the ball into some tight windows and hitting receivers down the field.

Getting an opportunity to start in Baltimore represents a second chance for Mallett. The Texans cut him earlier this year after some off-the-field issues, including being late for meetings and missing a team flight for a road game.

His performance Sunday showed why the Ravens signed him with the hope he can be Flacco's top backup in 2016. 

"Everyone welcomed me with open arms, so it was an easy transition, and that's a credit to my teammates," Mallett said. "It's through God's grace that I'm here and able to be in this position with this organization. I felt like I was placed here by something greater than football."

The performance from Mallett also made life easier for the Ravens on another note. For the first time in three weeks, Harbaugh knows at the start of the week who his quarterback will be.

"It's Ryan Mallet," he announced after the game with a smile.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content