SAN DIEGO (AP) — This one was all but over, with the Baltimore Ravens trailing by three points and facing a fourth-and-29 from their 37.
All the San Diego 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. Amazingly, the Chargers found yet another way to lose.
The Ravens converted on a dazzling catch-and-run by Ray Rice, forced overtime and then won it 16-13 on Justin Tucker’s 38-yard field goal with 1:07 left.
Baltimore (9-2) took a firmer grip on the AFC North, increasing its lead to three games over Pittsburgh, which lost to Cleveland, and Cincinnati, which beat Oakland. The Ravens won their fourth straight and for the eighth time in nine games.
San Diego (4-7) was pushed closer to elimination from the playoff picture for the third straight season, and with it, mostly likely 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.
While Tucker provided most of Baltimore’s scoring with three field goals, Rice had the play of the game.
On the fourth-and-29 play, Flacco took a shotgun snap and threw a short pass to Rice, who weaved through the defense, found a big hole in the middle of the field and made it to San Diego 33 before he was tackled with 1:37 to play. 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.
The Ravens were put in a hole because of a holding call against guard Marshal Yanda and a 9-yard sack of Flacco by Antwan Barnes.
Six plays after the big conversion, Tucker kicked a 38-yard field goal to tie the game as regulation expired.
San Diego punted on both of its OT possessions. The second punt, a 63-yarder by Mike Scifres, pinned the Ravens at their 11 with 4:56 to go.
On third-and-10 from the Chargers 47, Torrey Smith came back and went over cornerback Quentin Jammer’s tight coverage to make a nice catch of a 31-yard pass from Flacco to the Chargers’ 16. Flacco twice took a knee to set up the winning kick.
San Diego had gone ahead 13-3 on Nick Novak’s 30-yard field goal with 7:51 to go in regulation.
The Ravens trailed by 10 points with 7:51 to play.
This was the third time the Chargers blew a lead of double digits in the second half. They also came from ahead to lose at New Orleans and in an epic Monday night game here against Denver, when they blew a 24-0 halftime lead and lost 35-24.
The Ravens struggled offensively until the opening drive of the second half. Flacco threw a short pass to Smith, who made two Chargers miss, then cut inside and deked another defender before being tackled at the Chargers 27 for a 54-yard gain.
The Ravens had to settle for Tucker’s 43-yard field goal.
Flacco was sacked five times, twice by Antwan Barnes.
Philip Rivers was sacked six times, twice by Arthur Jones. Rivers was turnover-free for just the third time in 11 games. He came in with 14 interceptions and four lost fumbles.
San Diego’s first two drives stalled when Rivers was sacked on third down by Paul Kruger and then Dannell Ellerbe. Their third bogged down when Terrell Suggs deflected a third-down pass.
Rivers finally got time to throw behind his makeshift line on the fourth drive, which he capped with a 21-yard TD pass to Malcom Floyd.
Novak kicked a 47-yard field for a 10-0 lead with 3:04 left before halftime. San Diego had a first-and-10 from the Ravens 22 before Rivers threw an incompletion, was sacked by Suggs and then was flushed and threw an incompletion.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)