|Ray Rice converted a 4th-and-29 play late in regulation to help the Ravens get to overtime. (US Presswire)|
Last Sunday, the Chargers out Chargers-ed themselves: they blew a 10-point lead against the Ravens in an eminently winnable game, the nadir coming when Baltimore's Ray Rice converted a 4th-and-29 late in the fourth quarter. A few plays later, the Ravens would kick the game-tying field goal before notching the victory in overtime.
That fourth-down play has been scrutinized more closely than the Zapruder film. Referee Gene Steratore and his crew took 10 minutes to review the play, spot the ball, and measure to see if Rice, in fact, had gotten the first down.
The NFL discussed the play in it's "After Further Review" segment. The verdict: Steratore could stand to speed things up but ultimately, he got the call right.
“It took a little longer than we would have liked, but they correctly reset the chains where it should have been, and you can see when we stretch the chains out it still was a first down,” said Dean Blandino, the director of officiating and instant replay for the NFL (via PFT). “We probably could have moved the ball back to the 34, but as you can see, where the chains were, it would have been a first down. So, again, it took a little longer than we would have liked, but it was, in the end, properly handled.”
At the time, there was some criticism that the Ravens got a favorable spot and the game should've been over. The NFL disagrees.
Another criticism on the 4th-and-29 sequence: Anquan Boldin's block on Eric Weddle, who was knocked out of the game. The league fined Boldin, but not for anything that happened on this play. Instead, the NFL told PFT, Boldin was fined for unnecessary roughness at another point in the game.
The takeaway: if you don't want the game to come down to a controversial spot and subsequent first-down measurement, tackle the guy with the ball before he runs runs 28 yards.
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