"The hay is in the barn!"
It's Ravens play-by-play announcer Gerry Sandusky's classic call, and sweet music to any Ravens fans' ears, indicating that a win is in hand.
But this is a lesson in not stacking the hay too soon –* *especially considering the Ravens' penchant for nail-bitters this season.
When the Cowboys' two-point conversion bounced through wide receiver Dez Bryant's hands with 32 seconds remaining in Sunday's game, Gerry (like many fans who spilled out of M&T Bank Stadium) thought it was over.
But hoooooooold on a second. Gerry jumped the gun.
"I'm always suuuper conscientious about when I put the hay in the barn," Sandusky told me Monday night. "For whatever reason, I just presumed we would not let them recover an onside kick. It just didn't strike me as fathomable that the Cowboys would recover the onside kick.
"But sure enough. Something about the Cowboys; if I put the hay in the barn before the last second comes off the clock I'm backing up the bail loader."
I thought this was funnier than anything. Hey, mistakes happen. If we're being honest, a certain somebody (I won't name names) may have sent a tweet saying it was over too.
But what's particularly interesting and odd about this is that it's only the second time in Sandusky's seven-year career that he's prematurely put a bow on a game.
Both times came against Dallas.
The first was in 2008. The Cowboys pulled to within two points with three minutes, 50 seconds left. Running back Willis McGahee seemingly provided the dagger with a 77-yard touchdown run on the next play, but Dallas scored a quick touchdown on its next drive.
Then the Ravens really seemed to finish it off with an 82-yard touchdown rumble by LeRon McClain on the next play with 1:33 remaining. This time it was definitely over, right? Gerry thought so and put out the call.
Well, he started sweating when Dallas returned the resulting kickoff 41 yards into Ravens territory and quickly moved into scoring position.
"The whole time I'm thinking, 'Oh my God, don't ever put the hay in the barn that early again,'" Gerry said. "I think the next time we play the Cowboys, until the final seconds come off the clock, the hay is not going in the barn."
FYI, for those unsure about what "the hay is in the barn" actually means, I got its origins while I had Gerry on the phone. It hails from Gerry's playing days at Towson when his football coach, Phil Albert, would say it near the end of practices.
"It just meant, 'C'mon guys, the hard work's done. Just finish it up now,'" Gerry explained.
Gerry randomly said it at the end of one of the games during his second year on the job and it struck a chord. During the course of the following week, a lot of listeners said it back to Gerry. It organically grew from there.
Now people apparently place bets on how much time will be left in the game when Gerry puts the hay in the barn. It's become so prevalent that Gerry always includes the time in the call so he doesn't have to answer countless emails from people looking to settle bets.
For those putting down a wager next time the Ravens play the Cowboys, you may want to choose all zeros.