“Check down, Hey Diddle Diddle, Ray Rice up the middle,” the Baltimore running back said with a smile after the Ravens converted a fourth-and-29 play to help force overtime before stunning the San Diego Chargers 16-13 on Sunday.
I’m not a Norv Turner fan and ’til this day, I don’t know how he has kept his job as San Diego Chargers head coach all this time, but a play from Sunday’s game might be the final nail in the coffin.
How do you let a team convert a 4th and 29? Ray Rice‘s 29-yard catch-and-run that saved the day and allowed the Ravens (9-2) to take an even firmer grip on the AFC North race.
Pushed back by a holding call against guard Marshal Yanda and a 9-yard sack of Joe Flacco by Antwan Barnes, the Ravens were down to their last desperate shot.
Flacco took a shotgun snap, looked downfield and then dumped it 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.
“It was just total will,” Rice said. “Once I made the first guy miss when I cut back across the grain, I actually saw the defense had to flip their hip and I kept eyeing the first down. I looked and said, `Should I keep running to the sideline or should I just keep trying to get up field?’ And that’s what I did. I just kept getting up field.
“I left it in the hands of the officials and I’m not going to say they owed us one, but I’m glad we came out on top,” he said.
Said wide receiver Torrey Smith: “I had a great view. … That’s probably one of the best plays I’ve ever seen. You won’t see too many plays like that. He was the perfect guy for it.”
With the Chargers defenders playing deep, Flacco couldn’t find Smith open so he went to Rice.
“I thought it might be our best shot at the time – give it to Ray – and Ray made a great run and got a little lucky and it worked out perfect,” Flacco said.
All the Chargers had to do was get the stop and run out the clock for their first win against a team with a winning record this season.
“I don’t know what to say,” Jammer said. “A play like that should never happen. You can’t give them a chance to execute that play. But we had some breakdowns, for sure.”
Up to that point, San Diego’s defense had played well.
“It definitely upsets the stomach when things like that happen, but they happen,” said defensive end Corey Liuget, who had a sack, a big fourth-down stop earlier in the game and a pass deflection.
“You have to give a guy credit when he makes an awesome play like that. But it was big, the biggest of the game it changed the game. … Those kinds of plays are never acceptable in the NFL. You have to have somebody make the play.”
San Diego (4-7) was pushed closer to elimination from the playoff picture for the third straight season, and with it, almost certainly 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.
Written by – Arnold Glass II – AFC West Writer