All hope had seemingly been lost for Baltimore Ravens fans as the Ravens faced a 4th and 29 on their own 37 yard line with 1:37 left in the game and trailing the San Diego Chargers by three points…game over right? Wrong, as Ray Rice caught a check down pass with a mile to go before the first down marker, but found a way to gain 30 yards for the first down.
Rookie kicker Justin Tucker nailed a 38 yard field goal as time expired to tie the game and send it to overtime, where Tucker won the game on another 38 yard field goal with just 1:07 left in extra quarter.
Despite Tucker's heroics, all eyes and focus were on Rice and 4th and 29. After the game, Rice labeled the play,
"Check down, Hey Diddle Diddle, Ray Rice up the middle"
After the first half, where the Ravens trailed 10-0, the first time they had been shut out in a half of football since losing to Jacksonville in October of 2011, it was hard to believe that Baltimore was even in a situation to tie the football game. The Chargers defense simply dominated the Ravens offense in the first half, holding Baltimore to just 90 total yards of offense, while Flacco threw for just 59 yards.
Flip the switch to the second half where quarterback Joe Flacco seemed to figure it out. It became evident right off the bat as the Ravens drove 59 yards on their first possession in the second half and Tucker got the Ravens on the board with a 43 yard field goal and cut the deficit to 10-3. 59 yards on the first drive in the second half, when the offense only mustered 90 yards the entire first half, needless to say, Baltimore made an adjustment. San Diego added a field goal with 7:51 left in the fourth quarter to increase their lead to ten, and that's when the Ravens offense really took off. Flacco and the Ravens offense drove 80 yards on nine plays, capping it off with a four yard touchdown pass to TE Dennis Pitta to cut the deficit to three with 4:19 left in the game.
Baltimore's defense played spectacular yesterday, and they forced an ensuing Chargers three and out to give the Ravens the ball back with 3:09 left. After getting a first down, the Chargers defense had backed the Ravens into the 4th and 29, before the miracle 30 yard dump pass to Rice gives Baltimore a first down and eventually leading to the game tying field goal.
Flacco, after an abysmal first half, finished the game with 355 passing yards, 296 of which came after halftime, with one touchdown and no interceptions. Rice had a very nice day rushing for 97 yards and added 67 yards receiving as well. Torrey Smith broke out in a big way racking up 144 yards receiving on seven catches.
Although the 4th and 29 play by Rice kept the Ravens alive, Baltimore's defense won this football game as they held the Chargers offense to just 280 total yards and sacked Phillip Rivers six times, including two from the out of nowhere Arthur Jones. San Diego only got into the red zone one time, and of course the Ravens defense held them to a field goal and out of the end zone and held the Chargers to 3-15 on third down conversions.
The victory, combined with a Pittsburgh Steelers loss, gives the Ravens (9-2) a three game lead in the AFC North with just five games left to play, including this coming Sunday's game against the Steelers, where Baltimore can clinch the AFC North with a victory and a Cincinnati Bengals loss.
Ray Rice's 4th and 29 conversion
Check back tomorrow where we will dive deeper into this game on both sides of the football.
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