The final season for Ozzie Newsome as the Baltimore Ravens’ general manager and executive vice president will extend into the playoffs.
The Ravens made sure of that by defeating the Cleveland Browns 26-24, with middle linebacker C.J. Mosley — like Newsome a former Alabama All-American — clinching the victory with an interception with 62 seconds to play.
In the locker room after the game, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh presented Newsome with the game ball and Mosley with a spike.
After two near-misses in the playoff races in 2016 and 2017, the Ravens had been “chasing the lion” in 2018, and Mosley caught it for Baltimore this year.
“That’s why he’s our captain, and that’s why he’s a Pro Bowler, man,” Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon said. “Big players make big plays.”
Baltimore opens the playoffs against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers at 12:05 p.m. CST Sunday. CBS will televise the game.
The Ravens are playing in the postseason for the first time since Mosley’s rookie year in 2014.
Baltimore had to beat Cleveland to reach the playoffs. Mosley’s first interception of the year with the Browns at the Ravens 39-yard line made that happen. The linebacker was supposed to blitz on the play, but Mosley followed his gut feeling on what rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield might do on fourth down and stepped in front of his pass.
“When you do something great, and the whole city and the whole team is behind you, there’s no better feeling,” Mosley said. “At the end of the day, we deserved it. All the things we’ve been through all year, the ups and downs of the season, the naysayers out there, all the people on social media that said I can’t cover. …
“We’re in there. Like I always said, we just needed a chance to get in the playoffs. We’re in there, so let’s keep rolling.”
Mosley was the Class 6A Lineman of the Year at Theodore High School in 2009. Mosley was a consensus All-American in 2012 and a unanimous All-American in 2013 at Alabama. He earned the SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award and the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker in 2013 with the Crimson Tide.
The Ravens announced in February that 2018 would be Newsome’s final year of assembling their team.
Newsome was a three-sport star at Colbert County High School in Leighton.
Newsome helped Colbert County win the AHSAA Class 3A football championship in 1972, when the Indians outscored their opponents 520-109 on their way to a 13-0 record. Newsome caught 80 passes for Colbert County that season, at the time, the most in one season in state history. His 20 touchdown receptions in 1972 also set a state record, which he broke with 23 TD receptions in 1973.
Newsome also was part of Colbert County’s 3A basketball championship team of the 1971-72 season. He was the catcher for the 1973 baseball team that reached the state finals before falling to Chilton County.
Newsome earned All-State honors in football and basketball.
At Alabama, Newsome was an All-SEC tight end in 1976 and 1977 and a consensus All-American receiver in 1977. During his career, the Crimson Tide posted a 26-2 SEC record, won three conference championships and went 42-6 overall.
A first-round draft choice of the Cleveland Browns, Newsome retired after 13 seasons having caught more passes than any tight end in NFL history and more than all but three wide receivers. He remains the Browns’ career leader in receptions and receiving yards.
Between his retirement as a player after the 1990 NFL season and his appointment as the NFL’s first African-American general manager on Nov. 22, 2002, after the Browns’ move to Baltimore, Newsome worked for the franchise in its front office, mainly in the player-personnel department. Newsome has overseen two Super Bowl champions with the Ravens.
Newsome entered the College Football Hall of Fame with the Class of 1994 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the Class of 1999. He’s also a member of the National High School Hall of Fame, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the Little League Hall of Excellence.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.