And so the Ravens' slim hopes of a comeback against a stellar Steelers squad rested upon Trace McSorley.
Most often inactive, McSorley appeared in just his second NFL game and, though it was just briefly, brought the Ravens back to life with a thrilling 70-yard touchdown to Marquise Brown that stood as the largest highlight of Wednesday's game.
Baltimore lost, 19-14, but McSorley's first NFL TD stood as a memorable one in the conclusion of a very forgettable run of misfortune for the Ravens.
"It felt great. It's been a long few years of just working every day and trying to stay ready," said McSorley, a 2019 sixth-round pick who hadn't thrown an NFL pass prior to Wednesday. "[Quarterbacks] coach [James] Urban does a great job with guys like me and 'Snoop' [Tyler Huntley] -- we stay active, and we're working all the time. So, he does a really great job of keeping us ready and making sure we're working to the standard that he expects out of the quarterbacks, and really, out of our offense. So, it worked out, and I was happy that it was able to kind of come to fruition."
Unfortunately for Baltimore and McSorley, his first touchdown pass was the Ravens' last offensive play of the ballgame. The score and subsequent extra point cut the Steelers' lead to five points, but Pittsburgh was able to churn out the last 2:58 of game time.
The conclusion of the game also ended Week 12 and a daunting span for the Ravens and Steelers due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the Baltimore franchise that led to three postponements of the game, which was originally slotted to be played Thanksgiving night. With Jackson one of those to have tested positive for COVID-19, McSorley was on the ready during the rollercoaster week.
"We had to deal with the whole COVID-19 thing and all of that, and then we never knew what was coming, so it was just being ready to go at any time," McSorley said. "Whether it was jumping into a meeting or getting to the field house once we were finally cleared, so we just had to always be ready these past couple of days. We didn't really know what was going on, but you just take the punches and roll with them the past couple of days, and then finally got cleared two days before the game to come in. Tough situation, but I wish we were able to win the game, and it would have been a great story. We were just handling the ups and downs and being ready for whatever came."
For some it was a great story, as it was McSorley offering some late hope for the reeling Ravens and igniting an offense dormant throughout the contest prior to his throw to Brown.
The touchdown provided 70 of Baltimore's 219 offensive yards on the night, with McSorley completing two passes on six throws, the other completion a seven-yarder.
"I thought Trace came in and played well," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "It was great to see Trace come in and play well and gain some good experience."
McSorley added 16 yards on three carries as there was little to highlight on the offensive end for Baltimore other than his TD toss, the story of the game largely coming before it and in the realization that it was finally played.
Despite the second-year signal-caller getting the most experience to date in his NFL career, he was veteran-like in his focus upon the final result being all that mattered.
"There are no moral victories -- we lost the game, and at the end of the day, that's what counts," he said. "We've got to be better, but the fight we have in our team and how we were able to come together throughout this whole week -- losing guys, not knowing what was going on -- we stuck together, and we kept fighting. So, I think that's just the core of what we have here. We've got to eliminate mistakes so that we can win games, that's the big deal."
In a long run of bad luck and bad news, at the very least, McSorley gave the Ravens something to get excited about on an unconventional Wednesday amid a most unconventional year.