Tylan Wallace made a major impression in his first game returning punts for the Ravens, and now he's getting the honors.
After his 76-yard game-winning punt return in overtime against the Rams, Wallace has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. The dramatic walk-off touchdown was an early holiday gift for Ravens fans, who went crazy both inside M&T Bank Stadium and watching on television.
Wallace took over return duties in the second half in Week 14 after Devin Duvernay left with a back injury. The rain-soaked conditions made handling punts more challenging, however, but Wallace acted like he'd been returning punts all season.
His touchdown run was spectacular, as he snaked his way downfield and avoided several would-be tacklers on his way to the end zone. At the end of his journey, Wallace was mobbed by teammates and coaches in the end zone, celebrating a victory that gave the Ravens (10-3) the best record in the AFC.
"I hadn't had too many in-game punt returns," Wallace said. "The main thing for me, especially with the weather, I was like, 'I need to catch it first before anything.' On that play, we had the return set up, and I was like, 'This is a perfect opportunity to put the game away.' Shoutout to the guys blocking for me. It was wide open."
A host of Ravens made key blocks on Wallace's run, and he would not have reached the end zone without their assistance.
In addition to using his blocking to perfection, Wallace ran with determination that would not be denied. He has rarely been in the spotlight during his three-year career, but Wallace was ready for his shining moment.
"Tylan was nothing but hard work and positive attitude all the way through, just always praying for his opportunity and hoping for his opportunity, and then he gets it, and you see what he did with it," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "That's a great story to me. That's a pretty wonderful thing."