Former Boston College star Zay Flowers put together a phenomenal rookie campaign with the Baltimore Ravens, setting the franchise record in both receptions (77) and yards receiving (858) for a first-year player while the Ravens went 13-4 and earned the AFC's top seed.
However, in Sunday's AFC Championship Game versus the Kansas City Chiefs, Flowers made some key miscues as Baltimore's season ultimately ended two weeks earlier than they would have liked.
With 49 seconds left in the third quarter trailing 17-7, Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson connected with Flowers on a deep pass down the left side of the field. After being brought down following a monster 54-yard gain to the Chiefs' 10 yard line, Flowers pushed Kansas City defensive back L'Jarius Sneed back to the ground, flipped the ball at the Sneed and stood over him. The Ravens were pushed back to the KC 25 with as the rookie wideout was hit with a 15-yard taunting penalty.
After gaining back 16 yards (including a 14-yard reception by Flowers), the first play of the fourth quarter brought further disaster for the young wide receiver. Flowers caught a pass from Jackson and turned upfield with his eye on the goal line.
But as Flowers lunged for the goal line, Sneed got his revenge, punching the ball out of Flowers' grasp. Trent McDuffie of the Chiefs recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchback, giving Kansas City possession and keeping Baltimore off of the board. The Ravens would fail to reach the end zone again in the game.
To add insult to injury, Flowers appeared to cut his finger slamming his helmet in frustration with he returned to the sideline.
Speaking after the game, the 23-year-old was adamant that the moment would not define him or break him, and that he would use the moment as motivation.
"It's just a moment. It is going to make or break you. I don't plan on letting it break me."- Zay Flowers
Flowers was drafted 22nd overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, the second straight draft that a BC product has gone in the first round (guard Zion Johnson went 17th overall to the Los Angeles Chargers in 2022). In the last six drafts, the Eagles have had nine players selected in the first three rounds.
Flowers played four seasons in Chestnut Hill, earning first team All-ACC honors in 2020 and 2022, as well as a third-team All-American nod in 2022. For his career, Flowers caught 200 passes for 3,056 yards and 29 touchdowns for the Eagles.
Despite his two major blunders on Sunday, Flowers still put up an impressive statline with 115 yards receiving and a touchdown.
In all, the rookie had an standout first year in the league. Despite the criticism that he has received in the wake of Sunday's loss, he's made BC football proud in only year one. Hopefully, it is only up for here for Flowers and his words about using the moment as a "slingshot" ring true.