Australian Daniel Faalele makes NFL debut for Baltimore Ravens; fans demand he get a starring role
Aussie tight end Daniel Faalele realized a dream when he made his NFL debut on Monday morning Australian time – and Ravens fans are so keen on him they’re already begging their team for more.
The 203-cm, 174-kg offensive lineman was taken by the Ravens in the fourth round of April’s NFL draft — but was expected by many to be a project player who wouldn’t play much this season, if at all.
Faalele, the heaviest player in the entire league, made a mockery of that prediction and looked after Baltimore in their heartbreaking 42-38 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
He was called up after impressing the Ravens’ coaching staff in preseason training camps and because the team’s offensive line suffered some crucial injuries to start the season.
Australian star Daniel Faalele looks ready to play off the bench in his NFL debut on Monday morning for the Baltimore Ravens
Not content to just warm the bench, Faalele was thrown in at a few crucial times during the high-scoring game, most notably blocking star quarterback Lamar Jackson as he threw a touchdown to tight end Mark Andrews.
As an extra blocker to the right, the Aussie – pictured below wearing jersey number 77 – kept Jackson’s pocket clear as the superstar threw an easy one-yard touchdown.
Daniel Faalele (circled) blocks Lamar Jackson before throwing a touchdown pass to Mark Andrews
It’s an incredible achievement for an Australian who has only played the game for five years just to suit up, let alone thrive in regular season action – but the patriarchal Ravens fans are demanding more.
Not from Faalele, who has clearly already caught the attention of the fanbase, but from the team.
The Ravens brought on the heaviest man in the league as an extra blocker in a couple of crucial third down situations, but inexplicably chose not to use his size to their advantage.
That it was his first ever NFL snap meant nothing to Ravens fans.
Daniel Faalele has finally made his NFL debut after moving from Melbourne to the United States in 2016
The ‘Ravens brought in rookie T (tackle) Daniel Faalele on third-and-1 for a big jumbo look. But they ran the other way for no gain,’ one Ravens fan lamented on Twitter.
Even Ravens editorial director Ryan Mink got in on the action.
‘Daniel Faalele with his first NFL snap, coming in as an extra block on third-and-1. Raven ran to the other side, but it was a lot of beef. Run for no gain,’ he wrote on Twitter.
It wasn’t just blocking – an offensive lineman’s bread and better – the pundits or fans were after too.
Faalele with girlfriend Brianna Montgomery the day the offensive lineman was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens
They are hungry for the Aussie to set the record as the heaviest player to score a touchdown.
Fans could take inspiration from the moment Faalele lined up at fullback while playing for the University of Minnesota and bulldozed his way over for a touchdown.
It was a scene that quickly went viral and had NFL recruiters drooling over the Aussies’ huge potential.
Top pundits and Ravens fans pleaded with the team to let the man work on the goal line.
“Just give the ball to Daniel Faalele, problem solved,” wrote prominent football journalist Jonas Shaffer on Twitter.
Faalele’s longtime girlfriend, Brianna Montgomery, was on hand at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore to watch his debut — decked out in Ravens gear as she cheered on her husband from the stands.
‘RT (re-tweet) if you cried’, she captioned a video showing Faalele performing on the big screen.
She excitedly recounted the moment Faaele was on the field for Jackson’s touchdown, writing: ‘Don’t worry, the right side is good! TD on this play, go Ravens!’
Brianna Montgomery cheered on boyfriend Daniel Faalele while decked out in Ravens gear
Montgomery posted a photo of Faalele appearing on the big screen in the packed stadium
It has been a long journey for Faalele to get to this point after moving to the United States from Melbourne in 2016 to realize his dream of playing in the NFL.
The Aussie draft pick still faced an uphill challenge after April’s draft to make Baltimore’s final 53-man roster down from the original 90 players.
Despite still being raw, he injured his knee during preseason practice and relinquished years of experience to his teammates; Faalele impressed the coaching staff and earned his place through hard work.
No doubt it will be a moment he will remember forever – but unfortunately his team couldn’t get the job done in one of the most bizarre and high-scoring games in recent memory.
An impressive 318 passing yards, 119 rushing and four touchdowns from Jackson wasn’t enough to keep the Dolphins at bay in the entertaining 42-38 meeting.
Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw for 469 yards and six touchdowns, four of which came during a spectacular fourth quarter, and the Dolphins rallied from a 21-point deficit to secure an improbable victory
Tagovailoa’s seven-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Waddle with just 14 seconds left completed the incredible comeback after Miami trailed 35-14 with under 13 minutes remaining.
The Ravens will now look to regroup and rebound next Monday morning against a Patriots team that looks ripe for a beating after a lackluster start to their season.