Published November 25, 2012
SAN DIEGO – All the San Diego Chargers had to do was stop the Baltimore Ravens on fourth-and-29 from their 37 with 1:37 left, run out the clock and they'd secure their first win against a team with a winning record this season.
Naturally, they didn't.
The Ravens converted on a dazzling catch-and-run by Ray Rice, forced overtime and then won it 16-13 on Justin Tucker's 38-yard field goal with 1:07 left.
"Those kind of plays are never acceptable in the NFL, but they happen," said Chargers defensive end Corey Liuget, who had a sack, a big stop on another fourth-down play and a deflected pass. "When they happen, you have to have somebody make the play."
Baltimore (9-2) took a firmer grip on the AFC North, increasing its lead to three games over Pittsburgh, which lost to Cleveland, and Cincinnati, which beat Oakland. The Ravens won their fourth straight and for the eighth time in nine games.
San Diego (4-7) was pushed closer to elimination from the playoff picture for the third straight season, and with it, most likely the end of the Norv Turner era. The Chargers dropped four games behind AFC West leader Denver, which swept the season series against San Diego. In the wild-card race, the Chargers trail Indianapolis by three games and Pittsburgh and Cincinnati by two games.
While Tucker provided most of Baltimore's scoring with three field goals, Rice had the play of the game.
Pushed back by a holding call against guard Marshal Yanda and a 9-yard sack of Flacco by Antwan Barnes, the Ravens were down to their last desperate shot.
Flacco took a shotgun snap, looked downfield and then threw a short pass to Rice, who ran through a big hole in the middle of the field. Three Chargers missed him at the 50 before Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason finally brought him down.
The ball originally was spotted at the 33. After a lengthy review, the ball was moved back to the 34 and the refs measured. The new spot still gave the Ravens a first down by the length of the ball.
Six plays after the big conversion, Tucker kicked a 38-yard field goal to tie the game as regulation expired.
Chargers safety Eric Weddle pursued Rice on the fourth-and-29 play but was hit by receiver Anquan Boldin and sustained a concussion.
"I thought I tackled him," Weddle said. "That's the last thing I remember, but obviously I didn't. We had a really tough game defensively and we didn't pull out the win."
Said linebacker: Takeo Spikes: "I can't even explain it. Before this it was like a roller coaster full of emotions up and down. I don't know what happened, it just happened."
San Diego punted on both of its OT possessions. The second punt, a 63-yarder by Mike Scifres, pinned the Ravens at their 11 with 4:56 to go.
On third-and-10 from the Chargers 47, Torrey Smith came back and went over cornerback Quentin Jammer's tight coverage to make a nice catch of a 31-yard pass from Flacco to the Chargers' 16. Flacco twice took a knee to set up the winning kick.
San Diego had gone ahead 13-3 on Nick Novak's 30-yard field goal with 7:51 to go in regulation.
The Ravens trailed by 10 points with 7:51 to play.
This was the third time the Chargers blew a lead of double digits in the second half. They also came from ahead to lose at New Orleans and in an epic Monday night game here against Denver, when they blew a 24-0 halftime lead and lost 35-24.
The Ravens struggled offensively until the opening drive of the second half. Flacco threw a short pass to Smith, who made two Chargers miss, then cut inside and deked another defender before being tackled at the Chargers 27 for a 54-yard gain.
The Ravens had to settle for Tucker's 43-yard field goal.
Flacco was sacked five times, twice by Antwan Barnes.
Philip Rivers was sacked six times, twice by Arthur Jones. Rivers was turnover-free for just the third time in 11 games. He came in with 14 interceptions and four lost fumbles.
San Diego took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter on Rivers' 21-yard TD pass to Malcom Floyd and Nick Novak's 47-yard field goal.
San Diego still had a 10-point lead, 13-3, when Novak kicked a 30-yarder with 7:51 left in the fourth quarter. Baltimore pulled within three on Flacco's 4-yard TD pass to Dennis Pitta.
NOTES: Weddle sustained a concussion when he was hit by Anquan Boldin on the fourth-and-29 play. Chargers S Atari Bigby and LB Donald Butler both left with groin injuries in the second quarter. ... Ravens TE Ed Dickson sprained a knee. ... The Ravens were 8 of 13 on third-down conversions in the second half and overtime, and 12 of 24 for the game. The Chargers were 3 of 15 on third-down conversions for the game.
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