The loss aside, the regular-season finale wasn’t a throwaway game for Anthony Allen.
The Ravens’ special-team player and third-string running back posted a career day, though it would be considered modest by most standards.
He had 10 rushes for 41 yards and scored on a 2-yard run to open the scoring in a 23-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals as he shared duties with No. 2 back Bernard Pierce.
After backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor scrambled for 28 yards, Allen tacked on a 20-yard run to get the Ravens into the red zone. Then it happened.
“It was overwhelming at first,” Allen said about when he crossed into the end zone for the first time in his two-year career. “But I had to get myself together because I had to run down on the kickoff on the next play.”
Because the Ravens had secured the AFC North title and at least a No. 4 seed in the playoffs, Ray Rice only played a few snaps before leaving the game.
That opened the door for Allen, a last-minute cut before the season began. He worked his way back on the Ravens roster, became a key blocker on a unit that helped Jacoby Jones make his first Pro Bowl as a kick returner and has gotten on the field for more offensive snaps now that Jim Caldwell is the coordinator.
More telling is that while the Ravens pulled their starters after the second series in the first quarter, the Bengals stuck with theirs until halftime. Allen wasn't going against their backups. He found success against Cincinnati's first-string defense.
He played 31 of 85 offensive snaps Sunday. A lot of other little-used players saw action, too: receiver Deonte Thompson (76), receiver David Reed (69), tackle Bryant McKinnie (69), center Gino Gradkowski (69), tight end Billy Bajema (41), safety Sean Considine (42 of 51), cornerback Jimmy Smith (33) and safety Omar Brown (33).
The experience could go a long way to securing Allen a long-term future in the NFL.
“Just getting the opportunity to put some stuff on tape during the regular season," he said. “It was fun having guys out there that don’t normally play.”