The Ravens offense took a long time to get going on Sunday afternoon, but they found enough to beat the Chargers once they did.
Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith hooked up for a 31-yard completion on third-and-10 with just over two minutes to play in overtime. Justin Tucker banged home a 37-yard field goal a couple of plays later and the Ravens had a 16-13 win that looked unlikely early in the fourth quarter.
That was when the Chargers held a 13-3 lead after a nearly eight minute drive ended with a Nick Novak field goal. The Ravens had no points in the first half and their second half offensive efforts had been equally unsuccessful until that point in the game. Things changed for the better for Baltimore at that point.
Flacco, who threw for 296 yards in the second half, and Smith, who had seven catches for 144 yards and drew a pass interference penalty on the winning drive in overtime. connected for three first downs and Dennis Pitta caught a four-yard touchdown pass to draw the Ravens within a field goal. They got that field goal after running back Ray Rice weaved through the San Diego defense for a first down on a fourth-and-29 just after the two minute warning.
The spot of the ball on that play still doesn’t look right, but the Chargers still only have themselves to blame for the loss. They couldn’t block the Ravens pass rushers — Philip Rivers was sacked six times — and the defense failed to make a play and get off the field several times before Rice’s jaunt. The Ravens converted 13-of-26 third and fourth downs while the Chargers were 4-of-16 in the same situations, including just one of their final four opportunities.
And, since we mentioned it, there wasn’t any referee ruling that the Chargers defenders were barred from tackling Rice before he got close to the sticks on the play. There have been more galling losses in the Norv Turner era, but winding up losing a game they were winning by two scores with five minutes to play is a pretty good example of why Turner likely coached one of the final games of his Chargers tenure this week.
At 9-2, the Ravens now enjoy a three-game lead in the AFC North and they can clinch the division with a home win over the Steelers and a Bengals loss next Sunday.