Tandon Doss could not have asked for a better birthday.
On his 24th birthday, the third-year receiver came up with one of the biggest plays in Sunday's 30-9 victory over the Houston Texans. Doss broke an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown late in the second quarter, giving the Ravens a two-score lead and a boost of momentum heading into the locker room.
The touchdown was a powerful moment for Doss, who was initially cut by the Ravens just three weeks ago.
"It's been a long three years for me," Doss said. "It's been a rocky first couple of years. Just having that play in front of my home team fans, that was amazing. Hopefully, I'll just keep doing it."
When the Ravens cut him just before the start of the season after a disappointing training camp and preseason, his time in Baltimore looked like it had come to an end. He had failed to live up to expectations as a fourth-round draft pick, and ended up getting beat out by rookie wide receivers Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette.
But then the Ravens lost Jacoby Jones to a knee injury in the first game, and the team had a need at receiver and returner. Suddenly Doss was back in Baltimore as the team's starting punt returner.
"Just having that situation happen, it was kind of like a shock to myself," Doss said. "Thankfully, the Ravens called me after the Denver game and asked me to come back. It's been a blessing. It was a business decision by them. It's all business, so I had to go about it that way. I'm glad I'm back."
Doss admitted that getting cut served as a wake-up call. Since he's been back, Doss said that he's changed his mentality and his approach.
"I did a poor job the past two years just taking care of my body and just doing things off the field I shouldn't have been doing, honestly," Doss said. "My mind wasn't in it all the way, and I'm glad I had that opportunity to see what I needed to do to change it."
After scoring the touchdown, Doss was mobbed by his teammates in the end zone and then the congratulations continued for a few minutes on the sidelines. Teammates saw the criticism that Doss endured during the preseason and were thrilled to see him bounce back in a big way.
Torrey Smith, who stuck up for Doss on Twitter and in the media, and was one of the first people to greet him in the end zone after the score.
"That's like my brother right there," Smith said. "It was special. It's his birthday today. For him to score a touchdown like that, his folks are here, and I was happy for him and he can definitely build off that."
Sunday's touchdown was the kind of play that Doss envisioned making when the Ravens drafted him in 2011. He always had the potential, but struggled to get those skills to translate to games.
That changed on Sunday, as Doss made the biggest play of his career in what proved to be critical in a gritty victory over the Texans.
"It's just nice just to be able to contribute," Doss said. "It's been a long time since I made plays. It just feels good getting back on the field and being part of a team win. It feels amazing."