Quarterback Ryan Mallett's relationship with rookie tight end Maxx Williams preceded his signing with the Ravens last month. Mallett, along with Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and few other NFL players, worked out at the University of Minnesota a couple of years ago. The quarterback found himself throwing to Williams, then an emerging star tight end for the Gophers.
The two hooked up six times for 53 yards against the Bengals Sunday, easily Williams' best game in an otherwise quiet season for the second-round draft pick.
"He's just a good football player," Mallett said of Williams. "When you watch the film, he makes plays after the catch, he blocks. He's a tough guy."
Williams finished his rookie season with 32 catches for 268 yards and a touchdown in 14 games. But on Sunday, he lamented the two catches that he didn't make. He was originally given credit for a diving, 21-yard reception in the third quarter, but the Bengals challenged the play and the call was reversed. Later on that drive, Williams dropped a pass in traffic on fourth-and-3 from the Bengals' 38-yard line.
"This is fuel to the fire," Williams said. "Seeing what happened, how the outcome of the season was, you just have to hold your head high, go into the offseason and get right back to work, and [get] bigger, faster, stronger. Go into this next season with some fire."
Aiken sets record, but comes up short
Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken set one franchise record, while coming up short of another milestone.
With his five catches for 76 yards, Aiken became the first receiver in franchise history to have five catches or more in nine straight games. He entered the game tied with Derrick Mason, who did it in eight straight games in 2007.
Aiken, though, was unable to reach 1,000 receiving yards. He finished a breakout season with 75 catches for 944 yards and five touchdowns. All three led the team.
"I'm pretty sure [critics are] going to find something to say that I can't do it next year, or I won't do it again next year," Aiken said. "The way I am personally, I'm going to get some rest and then go back at it. That's all I know."
The Ravens set a franchise-low with 383 rushing attempts on the season. … The Ravens had 5,749 yards of total offense this year, just 90 yards shy of the franchise record set in 2014. … The Bengals have now beat the Ravens in five straight games. … Wide receiver Jeremy Butler had a second-quarter touchdown called back because the ball hit the ground, but he still finished with six catches for 57 yards. … Tucker's second-quarter 50-yard field goal made him 4-for-10 from 50 yards or longer on the season.