Quick Links

Blown 4th-and-29 was a Buckner moment for Bolts

201211251755645556746-p2.jpeg

Blown 4th-and-29 was a Buckner moment for Bolts

SAN DIEGO (AP) In a sense, it was the San Diego Chargers' Bill Buckner moment of 2012.

Although nothing as momentous as a World Series title was on the line, the Chargers' desperate attempt to reach the postseason - and save their coach's job - took a hit with their stunning inability to stop Ray Rice and the Baltimore Ravens from converting on fourth-and-29 late in regulation Sunday.

It was an ``Are you kidding?'' moment, for sure; one that neatly yet painfully summed up a season in which the Chargers have perfected the come-from-ahead loss.

Joe Flacco took the snap in shotgun formation, looked down field and then dumped the ball to Rice, who had slipped just past the line of scrimmage. The running back cut past three defenders at the 50, kept going and then slammed into two defensive backs.

The ball originally was spotted at the 33. After a long video review, it was moved back to the 34. The refs stretched the chains for a measurement and the Ravens got the first down by the length of the ball. Officially, it was a 29-yard gain.

Six plays later, Justin Tucker kicked a 38-yard field goal as regulation expired, and then won it with another 38-yarder with 1:07 left in overtime.

Afterward, a smiling Rice said the name of his big play was, ``Check down, Hey Diddle Diddle, Ray Rice up the middle.''

The Chargers (4-7) were pushed closer to oblivion and with it the expected end of the Norv Turner era. Who knows, general manager A.J. Smith might get fired, too, for the glaring deficiencies on a team that Turner at one point said could be ``outstanding'' and started the season at 3-1.

The Chargers led the Ravens by 10 points midway through the fourth quarter and were up by three with two minutes left.

Pushed back by a holding call against guard Marshal Yanda and a 9-yard sack of Flacco by Antwan Barnes, the Ravens were down to their last desperate shot. All the Chargers had to do was get a stop and run out the clock to secure their first win against a team with a winning record this season.

They couldn't do it.

Letting Rice convert was right up there with the Chargers blowing that 24-0 halftime lead against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, and letting former teammate Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints escape from a 10-point, second-half deficit.

Asked if Rice's play summed up the Chargers' season, Turner said: ``I guess for you guys, you can say that, and it's easy to say. It's a play we had guys in position to make the play and we didn't handle it very well.''

Linebacker Jarret Johnson, who played his first nine seasons with Baltimore before joining the Chargers as a free agent, was asked the same question Monday.

``You know, I mean, you could say that,'' Johnson said. ``I mean, it's frustrating. It's extremely frustrating because we were just in the locker room talking just as a group of guys, and we have a hard time putting our finger on how we're in this situation or why we're in this situation. We do everything there is to do to win, you know, got them backed up, big play by Barnes getting a sack, and then the inconsistent play to come back and give up a check down for 29 yards to convert and give them the opportunity to kick a field goal is just extremely frustrating.

``I know as media you want something more dramatic than the old technique and fundamentals and all that, but that's what it was,'' he said. ``We took bad angles, didn't get him boxed in when we had the opportunity to, he got out and did what great players do and make a great play. He had a huge block that got him over the line. It's extra frustrating.''

Johnson said the Chargers covered the Ravens deep.

``That's what you want; you want them checking down and you coming up to make the tackle. I've practiced against that guy for five years. The worst thing you can do is get him in the open field. But you still have to get him down and we didn't do it.''

Adding insult to the big gain was when safety Eric Weddle sustained a concussion when he was blocked by receiver Anquan Boldin.

Turner said he spoke with Weddle on Monday.

``Other than feeling that he had been rear-ended on Highway 5 with a clip and a helmet-to-helmet collision, he felt pretty good and it was very positive and he didn't have any signs from having that collision,'' Turner said. ``I thought it was a clip and I thought it was helmet-to-helmet on a defenseless player. It really doesn't matter what I thought, though. Obviously, what matters is the way it's called.''

After 11 games, Turner is still talking about how the Chargers can't put together a complete game.

While Philip Rivers got through just his third game this season without committing a turnover, he was sacked a season-high six times.

Interestingly, Rivers didn't throw a single pass to Robert Meachem, who has all but disappeared since dropping what appeared to be a certain touchdown pass in a 7-6 loss at Cleveland on Oct. 28.

The Chargers certainly expected more from Meachem when they signed him to a four-year deal worth $25.9 million, with $14 million guaranteed, hours after Vincent Jackson left San Diego to sign a five-year, $55.55 million deal with Tampa Bay in March.

Meachem has only 14 catches for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Another big free agent, Eddie Royal, has just 16 catches for 134 yards and one TD.

Meachem, Royal and left tackle Jared Gaither, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Friday, represent some serious dead weight in the big class of free agents signed by Smith.

Smith did make a key move by signing receiver Danario Alexander on Oct. 22.

Alexander has become San Diego's fifth-leading receiver in just five games, with 20 catches for 365 yards and three TDs in five games. Their leading receiver is Malcom Floyd, who has 47 catches for 704 yards and four scores.

``Again, some of it comes down to what we're using in personnel groups,'' Turner said. ``We have a comfort level, obviously, with Malcom. Malcom plays all the positions. We're trying to get Danario going and he's made some plays for us. As I've said, that's where we're at right now.''

San Diego hosts Cincinnati (6-5) on Sunday.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Five observations from Day 2 of Ravens training camp

Five observations from Day 2 of Ravens training camp

OWINGS MILLS – Five observations from Day 2 of Ravens training camp:

RELATED: DAY 1 OBSERVATIONS

1. Wide receiver Michael Campanaro had an impressive day.

— Campanaro consistently got open making decisive moves and catching the ball cleanly, whether lined up wide or in the slot. Injuries have been the main stumbling block during Campanaro’s career. But there is no doubt he can make plays if he makes it to Week 1 healthy. Unless he suffers another injury, I think Campanaro is on the 53-man roster, especially since he can also return punts.

2. Joe Flacco showed no discomfort practicing on his surgically-repaired knee for a second straight day.

— Flacco throw the ball crisply, he moved well in the pocket, and he smiled when on the sideline. If Flacco was thinking at all about his knee, he disguised it well.

3.  Rookie cornerback Tavon Young is a player to watch.

— Young made several nice plays on the ball, including an interception in which he showed good technique and ball awareness. A fourth round pick from Temple, Young is making a bid to earn playing time as a nickel corner. Jerraud Powers missed his second straight practice (failed conditioning test), and Young took advantage of the extra reps. It will be interesting to learn more about Young’s tackling ability when the Ravens begin practicing in pads.

4. Rookie fourth-round pick Chris Moore looks like a potential playmaker.

— Ravens corners are having trouble keeping up with Moore when he goes deep, including Jimmy Smith, who saw Moore race by on his way to a deep reception. With left tackle Ronnie Stanley, linebacker Kamalei Correa, Young, and Moore, the Ravens have the potential for an instant-impact draft class.

5. There is no getting around Stanley’s importance as a rookie.

— Stanley needs to continue looking good when the Ravens go to pads Saturday, and whenever linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil return from PUP. A potential Ravens deal with veteran left tackle Jake Long fell through Friday. The Ravens will be counting on Stanley, not only to start but to play well.

 

Quick Links

Long won't join Ravens, potential deal with LT falls through

Long won't join Ravens, potential deal with LT falls through

OWINGS MILLS – Veteran left tackle Jake Long won’t be joining the Ravens after all. A potential deal between Long and the Ravens fell through Friday, leaving Long a free agent according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, and confirmed by CSN.

The issue was Long’s right knee. He tore his ACL in both 2013 and 2014, leaving concern about how his knee would hold up if he returned to action. Long went to see Dr. James Andrews after taking a physical with the Ravens on Wednesday. According to a source, while Long was healthy enough to play, the Ravens were not comfortable being financially liable if Long’s knee failed to hold up.

The Ravens targeted Long as a potential backup for rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley. While Stanley has looked solid during practice, the Ravens have been searching for veteran insurance in case Stanley suffered an injury. Long is a former No. 1 overall pick (2008) and has more experience than James Hurst, who is currently the Ravens’ backup left tackle.

Now the Ravens have a roster spot available, which they may use to sign another offensive lineman, or to address depth at another position.

MORE RAVENS: FIVE OBSERVATIONS FROM DAY 1 OF RAVENS TRAINING CAMP

Quick Links

Mike Wallace finally passes conditioning test; allowed to join Ravens at practice

Mike Wallace finally passes conditioning test; allowed to join Ravens at practice

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace was back on the practice field Friday, after passing his conditioning test on the second try.

Wallace missed Thursday’s practice after he failed the test on his first attempt. Joining him on the field Friday was wide receiver Dobson Collins, who also passed the test on his second attempt.

The Ravens hope Wallace will return to the form he had early in his career, when he was a consistent deep threat for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Wallace was a disappointment during stints with the Dolphins and Vikings, but Joe Flacco’s ability to throw the deep ball could help Wallace rejuvenate his career.

RELATED: RAVENS TIGHT END LEAVES CAMP WITH INJURY

In other practice news, cornerback Jerraud Powers missed practice for the second straight day and remained the only player yet to pass the conditioning test. Running back Kenneth Dixon, who sprained his left knee Thursday, also did not practice.  

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was hoping the team would stay disciplined during the first day of practice in pads on Saturday.

“The biggest message when you put the pads on is, ‘You’ve been in pads before,’’’ Harbaugh said. ‘“Don’t overreact. It’s going to be fine.’…I want to get right into executing and keep building on what we’ve done the last two days.

“We’re not going to be out here tackling too much – especially the veteran guys. Let’s just go play football.”