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Ravens stun Rams, 37-31, on Tylan Wallace's walk-off punt return TD in overtime

Jacob Calvin Meyer, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Football

BALTIMORE — Tylan Wallace made perhaps the game’s biggest mistake. He didn’t miss his chance at redemption.

Wallace, a Ravens’ backup wide receiver and special team player, committed an inexplicable offsides penalty in the first half that spurred a Los Angeles Rams scoring drive. More than two hours later, as the cloudy sky at M&T Bank Stadium began to give way to darkness, Wallace more than made up for his miscue in overtime, returning a punt 76 yards for a walk-off touchdown and a 37-31 Ravens win.

Wallace, who was filling in for the injured Devin Duvernay, weaved through the Rams’ punt coverage, broke several tackles and maintained his balance up the sideline as he pranced into the end zone for his first career touchdown.

His mistake was far from the only one of the afternoon. Lamar Jackson’s first-half interception and Tyler Linderbaum’s untimely snap also aided the Rams (6-7). But three touchdown passes over 20 yards from Jackson, including a beautiful 21-yarder to rookie Zay Flowers with 1:16 left in regulation, kept the Ravens alive as the defense struggled.

The win pushes the Ravens to the top spot in the AFC with a 10-3 record. They hold a two-game lead in the AFC North and are a half-game ahead of the Dolphins (9-3), who play Monday night, in the conference.

After the Ravens punted on their first possession, running back Kyren Williams and the Rams’ rushing attack gashed Baltimore’s front seven for 52 yards on nine straight carries to get inside the 10-yard line. But the Rams inexplicably called three straight pass plays — all incompletions — and settled for a field goal and a 3-0 lead.

 

The Ravens’ second offensive drive featured a few downfield pass attempts — perhaps the biggest thing missing from Baltimore’s offense — that fell incomplete, including one to Rashod Bateman, who briefly slowed up during his route and then couldn’t catch up to the pass. Jackson’s next deep ball wouldn’t suffer a similar fate.

The Rams didn’t have to prepare for tight end Mark Andrews, who is likely out for the remainder of the regular season after undergoing ankle surgery, and they forgot to account for his backup, Isaiah Likely, on the third play of Baltimore’s third offensive drive. Likely ran free down the left sideline, and Jackson found the second-year tight end wide-open for an easy 54-yard touchdown to give Baltimore a 7-3 lead in the first quarter.

The Rams responded with big plays of their own on the next drive, reaching the red zone thanks to a deep pass to former Raven Demarcus Robinson, a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on safety Marcus Williams and a chunk gain by star wideout Cooper Kupp after a short pass. Matthew Stafford then retook the lead in the second quarter by perfectly rainbowing a pass to Kupp in the back-left corner of the end zone for a 6-yard score — the first of the quarterback’s three touchdown passes. The 35-year-old was 23-for-41 passing for 294 yards, while Jackson was 24-for-43 with 316 yards and three scores while also rushing a team-high 11 times for 70 yards in one of his best performances of the year.

The back-and-forth first half continued on the next two drives. Baltimore responded to the Stafford-Kupp connection with perhaps the one becoming its best since Andrews’ injury. Jackson threw another deep touchdown to a wide-open pass catcher, this time Odell Beckham Jr., for a 46-yard score. Beckham Jr., who helped the Rams win Super Bowl LVI before tearing his ACL in the February 2022 game, returned from his injury this season, and after a slow start, he’s now scored or totaled 100 receiving yards in four of his past five games.

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©2023 The Baltimore Sun. Visit at baltimoresun.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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