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Chargers Haunted by 4th-and-29
Those words will haunt the San Diego Chargers for the rest of the season.
With under two minutes remaining in the game and up by three points, all the Chargers needed to do to earn the victory was stop the Ravens on 4th-and-29.
Ray Rice took a check down from Joe Flacco and weaved around countless Chargers defenders, zig-zagging for a gain of exactly 29 yards and a first down. The play was challenged by the replay official and the ball was moved slightly back, but it was still enough for a first down. Justin Tucker would kick a game-tying field goal to send the game into overtime, and eventually kicked the game winner as well as the Ravens beat the Chargers 16-13.
“I’ve never seen a play like that before,” said Corey Liuget. “Those kinds of plays are not acceptable in the NFL or any sports you play in and compete in. But they happen. And when they happen, you just have to have someone make the play. The defense, we were fighting. We were trying and we came up short.”
Even with the bad tackling, the Chargers felt they stopped Rice short of the first down marker. Based on the replays shown in stadium and on TV, it certainly looked that way. The team also was not happy with the explanation they got from the referees that they couldn’t see where the ball was, and as a result, felt the officials placed it in an arbitrary position.
“The explanation we got was that where they spotted the ball, they couldn’t see the ball,” said head coach Norv Turner. “They knew it did not make it to the point where they marked it so they moved it back. I don’t know how if they can’t see the ball how they pick where they were going to move the ball back to. The view our guys had upstairs, they felt it was short.”
Still, even though he like many felt the spot was incorrect, Turner said the Chargers shouldn’t have even have put the officials in the position to determine the outcome of the game had they tackled correctly.
“Obviously on 4th-and-29 we had the chance to not let it get to that,” he said. “We certainly weren’t going to let them throw the ball up the field. They dumped the ball and we thought we’d converge on it and get them well short of the first down. I thought we had a couple guys take bad angles. We gave him a chance to cut back, and he cut back and made the first down.”
Eric Weddle was one of those players who missed a tackle on Rice, and the safety suffered a concussion on the play. When he came to, he couldn’t believe that the Ravens converted the first down.
“The last thing I remember was getting ready to tackle him, and then I was heading into the locker room,” said Weddle. “It’s just unfortunate. We should have won that game. It was 4th-and-29. We can’t give something like that up.”
Unfortunately, the Chargers did just that and as a result, their record dropped to 4-7 on the season.