The fact that Mark Clayton did not play one snap during the preseason was a fleeting memory by the end of the Ravens' 38-24 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
After totaling five receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown, Clayton's hamstring injury that he suffered early in training camp was hardly a concern.
Because the Ravens wanted to be careful with an injury that had bothered him in the past, Clayton did not play in any preseason contests.
So, to be able to simply run at full speed was a bonus.
"Praise Jesus for a quick recovery," Clayton said after the game. "They told [me] it may be like six weeks, I don't think you're going to make it to the first game. I was like, 'No, God's got better plans than that.'"
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said he thought Clayton looked like the playmaker that has shown promise in the past, but has yet to fully realize his potential because of injuries.
"Mark played really well," Harbaugh explained. "You wouldn't have known he had a hamstring injury. I think it's a credit to Mark and the training staff and obviously how hard he's working through it to get it back because it was a severe hamstring [injury]."'
Clayton, a first-round draft pick in 2005, scored what would become the game-winning points for Baltimore.
And he essentially knew that he would, even though his touchdown catch came during an unlikely scenario.
With the score tied at 24, the Ravens' offense was threatening to stall after marching all the way to Kansas City's 31-yard line.
Quarterback Joe Flacco*had just launched a deep pass to Derrick Mason down the right sideline, but that fell incomplete. But offensive coordinator Cam Cameron* wanted to take another shot and called for a post pattern to Clayton.
Facing man-to-man coverage, Clayton slipped past the coverage of cornerback Brandon Carr and Flacco placed the football perfectly.
"Cam is very smart, and at that moment he told us it was coming and it was going to happen," said Clayton, who recalled that the last time he caught a game-winner was as a freshman at Oklahoma. "When he called it, sure enough, there was the defense, there was the middle wide open, there was the ball and there was the touchdown."
Clayton, 27, converted another first down earlier in the day when Flacco found him for 16 yards on third-and-14.
Last year, when Clayton finished second on the team with 41 grabs for 695 yards and three scores, most of those throws went to Mason, who led the Ravens with 60 first-down conversions, including 23 on third down.
Now, Clayton sees even bigger things from Flacco and the Ravens' offense with the emergence of other weapons.
Against the Chiefs, Flacco set career highs for attempts (26-of-43), yards (307) and touchdowns (three), while finding seven different receivers.
Clayton hopes he is part of several more record-setting days with Flacco at the helm.
"We have a lot of talent, a lot of guys that can do a variety of things," Clayton stated. "You know, Cam does a great job of getting guys in positions to do what they do well. And it was just a testament to the way we worked in the off-season.
"We left a lot on the field but to put that together and most importantly to get the win, you can't ask for too much more than that."