With the Ravens trailing by three points and facing a 4th-and-29 at their own 37-yard line with 1:59 to play in the game, quarterback Joe Flacco looked downfield and didn't see anything he liked. He also didn't want to throw a Hail Mary, so he dropped the ball off to Ray Rice in the right flat and then watched the Pro Bowl running back make one of the more memorable plays in several seasons for the Ravens.
Going through and around would-be tacklers, Rice gained 29 yards, getting the first down and setting the stage for rookie Justin Tucker's game-tying 38-yard field goal as time expired in regulation. Tucker then won the game in overtime with a field goal of the same length.
But understandably, much of the talk after the game was about Rice's legs, not Tucker's right foot. According to ESPN's Stats & Information Department, Rice's 29-yard catch marked the longest fourth-down conversion in the NFL in a non-penalty situation since Week Two of the 2001 season when the Buffalo Bills converted on 4th-and-34.
Here's what the Ravens and Chargers were saying about the play, starting, of course, with Rice, who labeled it, "Hey diddle diddle, Rice up the middle."
Rice (Part 1): "On that play, it was just will, man. Once I made the first guy miss and I cut back across the grain, I actually saw that the defense had to flip their hips. I was just eyeing the first down. I looked and I said, 'Should I keep running to the sideline or should I keep trying to get up field?' That’s what I did. I just kept trying to get up field. I left it in the hands of the officials. I’m not going to say that they owed us one, but I’m just glad we came out on top."
Rice (Part 2): "We knew that they were going to play the sticks. I’m always expecting to get the ball on the pass play. Any time Joe is in trouble, I have to be his safety outlet. It was just a simple call. There's not too many calls you can [make] on that play. They dropped in max coverage. I guess they figured if they are dropping it down to the guy, they make the tackle and game over. I guess when you put me into the equation, I guess it’s not that easy."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh: "First I thought, it was going to be hard for him to make it. But then it looked like he had some room. Then I just thought to myself, ‘Can Ray Rice actually make this?” It’s Ray Rice. We’ve seen him do it before. I had a flashback to that Minnesota game in ’09, some of the runs he made. It was kind of like that."
Flacco: "The only shot that we really had was if Torrey [Smith] would have just stopped his route and I would have thrown it to him. I didn’t want to really throw a ball aimlessly and have it land in the field or anything like that. They were all dropping back pretty far. I don’t think it was a good shot but I thought our best shot was to just kind of give it to Ray. Ray made a great run [and] we got a little lucky. It worked out perfect.”
Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith: "I had a great view. I was running down the field and I didn’t block anybody. That’s probably one of the best plays I’ve ever seen. You don’t see too many plays like that. He is a perfect guy for it."
Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin: "He wasn’t going down before he got that first down. Joe checked it down to him and he made like four guys miss."
Ravens defensive end/tackle Art Jones on long delay to review the play: "I caught up on years of praying. I kept pacing myself up and down the sideline, kept saying, ‘Come on Lord, we need you.’ I just kept praying. When they said first down, I knew we had the game won."
Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata: "It was the most incredible play that I've ever seen live."
Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs: "I was thinking we needed a miracle. I was thinking we have Jacoby Jones and he can jump there and catch it or we have Anquan Boldin with the best hands in the world. But then I saw the check-down to Ray Rice and I thought he was going to pitch it or something but he kept it and made an amazing play to get it done for us.”
Chargers coach Norv Turner: "Obviously, on 4th-and-29, we should have stopped them ... I'm the head coach so obviously everything there was my responsibility. We didn't play the play as well as we thought we could have. We talked about the situation a great deal and I thought we were in something that gave us a chance to keep them from getting a first down."
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers: "He did not get the first down. They just did not have a view to overturn it. He did not get it. You can't help it. When you don't have a view to overturn it, you cannot overturn it. I do not think anyone thinks he got it. I do not think anyone in the stadium thinks he got it. I do not think Ray Rice thinks he got it. I do not think anyone on their team thinks he got it. But he got it. They just did not have a camera view to overturn it. That's what the referee said. He felt bad that they could not because he did not have a view. He knew his knee was down on the 35-yard line."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun