There was every reason to expect the Baltimore Ravens to lay an egg on the road and lose to the San Diego Chargers this afternoon. Between the tough match-up that Chargers QB Philip Rivers always gives them as well as their continuing road woes, the game seemed to be headed in that direction through the first half and then deep into the second.
A Justin Tucker field goal provided the Ravens first points early in the third quarter but the Chargers answered with one of their own to extend the lead to ten points or two scores. The Ravens finally got into the end zone on a Joe Flacco to Dennis Pitta short TD pass with four minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The Ravens got the ball back for one last chance and on fourth and 29, Flacco tossed a short pass to Ray Rice, initially making most Ravens fans throw their collective hands in the air out of frustration. However, that when Rice's heroics turned into what was not only the play of the day but perhaps the play of the year.
Rice turned that short pass in the flat into a cross country gallop from one side of the field to the other, helped by a crushing Anquan Boldin block that sprang Rice for the final few yards and a first down by a foot. The referees, obviously confused, too almost fifteen minutes in deciding that the placement of the ball needed to be changed but the outcome was still a first down.
Baltimore seemed content to send the game into overtime by playing conservatively rather than going for the win, and Tucker, the rookie placekicker, nailed a 38-yard FG on the final play of regulation and then hit his biggest kick of his young career by hitting at the same distance only a minute before the game would have ended in a possible tie.
So much went wrong early on and so much went right late in the game to result in an improbable Ravens victory that extended their lead in the AFC North to three games with five remaining and kept them in the all-important #2 playoff seed.