BALTIMORE — Tylan Wallace caught a punt on the Ravens’ second possession of overtime and was determined to make the biggest play of his career.
Wallace fielded the ball cleanly, broke three tackles with the help of a spin move, and then maintained his balance for a 76-yard touchdown that gave the Ravens a 37-31 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Rams on a rainy Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
Wallace only got the opportunity to return punts in a regular-season game because Pro-Bowler Devin Duvernay suffered a back injury.
“Going into it with ‘Duv’ going down and me having to step into that role, the main thing for me, especially with the weather, was I just needed to catch it first,” Wallace said. “This was a perfect time for me to put the way game away. I saw a crease, and I just took it.”
The Ravens improved to 10-3 on the season and maintained a two-game lead over the Cleveland Browns, who knocked off the Jacksonville Jaguars behind quarterback Joe Flacco.
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson completed 24 of 43 passes for 316 yards with three touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 1:16 left in the game.
The Rams, however, would not go away and amassed 410 yards against the Ravens.
Jackson improved to 15-3 in regular-season games in December and January.
“That was crazy, that was a wild game, man,” Jackson said. “Shout to Ty. The emotions right now are electric. That was a playoff atmosphere. It was a team win.”
A 47-yard field goal by Justin Tucker tied the game, 20-20, early in the third quarter.
A mental mistake by the Ravens allowed the Rams to retake the lead when Jackson was not ready for the snap by center Tyler Linderbaum and was forced to kick the ball out of the end zone for a safety.
“It was a miscommunication,” Jackson said. “That’s probably why we got to overtime, but we got the [win].”
The Ravens, however, minimized the damage and led, 23-22, on a 33-yard field goal by Tucker with 11:27 left in the game.
However, Baltimore’s offense stalled again, and the Rams took advantage. A 5-yard pass from Stafford to former Raven Demarcus Robinson gave them a 28-23 lead after the 2-point conversion failed with 4:41 remaining.
The Ravens moved the ball to Rams’ 15 with under two minutes left, and Jackson threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Zay Flowers. The duo hooked up again for the two-point conversion, giving the Ravens a 31-28.
The Rams marched down the field on the next drive and Lucas Havrisik tied the game with a 36-yard field goal with seven seconds to left to force the extra period.
Both teams went three-and-out on their first possessions in overtime before Wallace’s heroics.
There were seven lead changes in the game.
“Just a tremendous victory,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s the amazing thing about football, it is the ultimate team game. The guys were so happy for Ty in the locker room.”
The Rams ran nine straight runs for 52 yards on their opening drive. But after three straight incompletions by Stafford, the drive stalled at the 10 and they had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Lucas Havrisik.
The Ravens’ offense finally got rolling late in the first quarter and they took a 7-3 lead on a 54-yard pass from Jackson to Isaiah Likely with 25 seconds left.
Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley had to leave the game with a hip injury and Pat Mekari took his spot on the offensive line.
The Rams responded on their first drive of the second quarter, going 75 yards on seven plays, capped by a 6-yard pass from Stafford to Cooper Kupp for a 10-7 lead. Ravens safety Marcus Williams argued that Kupp pushed off to get open in the end zone.
Kupp finished with eight catches for 115 yards.
Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton had to leave the game with a knee injury during that drive and was later ruled out.
The Ravens regained the lead on another big play.
This time, Jackson threw a 46-yard pass to Odell Beckham Jr., who made a nice adjustment on the ball, and the Ravens led, 14-10, midway through the second quarter.
The Rams were able to get a first down when Wallace was called for lining up in the neutral zone on a punt. Hamilton, who briefly re-entered the game, was called for pass interference and gave the Rams the ball on the 10. Stafford then found tight end Davis Allen for a 17-14 lead.
An interception by Jackson on the ensuing possession gave the Rams the ball at midfield. Los Angeles then converted a third-and-16 that set up a 51-yard field goal by Havrisik.
A 31-yard field goal by Tucker cut the margin to 20-17 at the break
The Ravens ran the ball just eight times for 37 yards in the first half.
It didn’t matter in the end.
“The team has been galvanized,” Harbaugh said.