All day long the Chargers seemed to have things well in hand against the visiting Ravens.
Then they fell asleep at the wheel.
In the end, Baltimore overcame some of the longest odds you’ll ever see, including a wild 4th-and-29 play for the first down, and topped San Diego 16-13 in overtime.
“What we’re trying to do is find a way to win a game, and that’s obviously the frustrating part,” Chargers coach Norv Turner said. “We were able to make a couple plays in the first half and we didn’t make the same plays in the second half.”
The Bolts led the game 13-3 with 7:51 to play, but that’s when the wheels came off, and the Ravens were more than happy to accept the gifts their hosts gave them.
The first was a defense, which beat up the Ravens all day, going soft. They went from aggressive to passive in a matter of minutes, and the Ravens took advantage of it.
Joe Flacco hit tight end Dennis Pitta with a 4-yard TD with 4:19 left to draw the game to 13-10. Then after the Chargers failed to get a first down, the Ravens got the ball back looking to either tie or win the game at their own 40.
That’s when things got wacky. The second play of the Ravens drive saw a 16-yard pass and catch from Flacco to Pitta.
However, a holding call followed by two incompletions and a fumble that saw the team lose another nine yards faced Baltimore with a 4th-and-29.
Flacco dumped the ball off to running back Ray Rice, who caught it at the right side, raced over to the left and just stretched over the first-down marker.
There was a lengthy review to determine whether the spot of the ball was correct, and eventually it was moved back about a half-yard. After resetting the chains to their original position, the spot still left plenty of room for a first down at the San Diego 34.
“I don’t think it was a good shot, but I thought it might of been our best option at the time just to give it to Ray,” Flacco said about the play. “Ray made a great run and we got a little lucky. It worked out perfectly.”
The Ravens would get down to the Chargers’ 20 before kicker Justin Tucker kicked a 38-yard field goal as time expired to send the game to overtime.
The Chargers started overtime with the ball, but had to punt after reaching midfield. Baltimore, though, also had to punt on its first touch after getting close to midfield.
The Chargers then went three-and-out, but a 63-yard punt from Mike Scifres pinned the Ravens back at their own 11.
A defensive pass interference penalty on the next play moved the ball 11 yards and Flacco converted a 3rd-and-4 with an 11-yard pass to Pitta. The Ravens later faced a 3rd-and-10 at the San Diego 47, but Torrey Smith made a leaping 31-yard catch down to the 16.
Following three kneels by Flacco to get the ball between the middle of the hash marks, Tucker drilled the winner from 38-yards out for the win.
Flacco threw for 355 yards and a score on 30-of-51 passing, while Chargers QB Philip Rivers was 23-for-36 with 228 yards and a touchdown for the Chargers, who have dropped their past three games and are now 4-7.
Malcom Floyd caught four passes for 65 yards and a score, while Ryan Mathews had 19 carries for 72 yards in the loss.
The loss may just be the final straw for the Chargers to finally make a change at head coach, as Norv Turner’s job is more in doubt than it ever was before.
Next week the Bolts will host the Bengals.