BALTIMORE (AP) — Tylan Wallace caught the punt cleanly — no easy feat on this wet day — then slipped to his left, spinning away from one potential tackler and racing past a couple of more while barely staying inbounds along the sideline.
By the time Shaun Jolly came diving at his feet near the 45-yard line, Wallace had Baltimore in decent shape for a field goal — but after stumbling a bit, he stayed on his feet and kept running.
“I’m like, ‘I can’t go down right here. I made it this far,’” Wallace said.
In his first game returning punts as a pro, Wallace ran one back 76 yards for a touchdown in overtime to lift the Ravens to a 37-31 victory over Los Angeles on Sunday, snapping the Rams’ three-game winning streak.
Wallace became the fourth player in NFL history to score a touchdown on a punt return in OT. Xavier Gipson of the New York Jets also did it this season, on Sept. 11 against Buffalo.
“It just feels great to be able to make a difference in the game and help the team win,” Wallace said. “You could say a once-in-a-lifetime moment.”
The 24-year-old Wallace is in his third season after being drafted in the fourth round in 2021. He’s managed only six receptions in his career, plus a couple of kickoff returns as a rookie.
When Devin Duvernay, Baltimore’s top return man, left with back problems Sunday, Wallace was pressed into duty. He returned three punts in the game, and his final one more than made up for a crucial penalty he committed in the second quarter that led to points for Los Angeles.
Baltimore (10-3) took a half-game lead on Miami for the AFC’s top seed. The Dolphins host Tennessee on Monday night.
The Rams (6-7) remain in a logjam of teams fighting for the final NFC playoff spots. They narrowly missed picking up a huge win on the road.
“Give the Ravens credit for finding a way,” Los Angeles coach Sean McVay said. “There were some opportunities, but we made a lot of plays to stay in that game and there will be some opportunities for us as a team.”
Jolly had the last real chance to bring Wallace down, and after he couldn’t quite do it, the Baltimore returner punctuated the winning touchdown with a leap into the end zone before the Ravens mobbed him in the corner.
“It was mountains and valleys. It was peaks and there was lows in that game,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. “National Football League in December against a very, very good opponent. Our guys just weather all those storms, figuratively and literally out there.”
Catching passes and punts was an adventure on a rainy day in Baltimore, but Lamar Jackson and Matthew Stafford threw three touchdown passes apiece. Jackson passed for 316 yards and Stafford for 294. Each offense went three-and-out in overtime before the final Los Angeles punt.
“Just continue to trust the work we’ve put in,” Stafford said. “Obviously didn’t get the outcome we wanted but we battled. All three phases had positive things, and things we can be better at.”
Jackson’s 21-yard touchdown strike to Zay Flowers with 1:16 remaining — and his 2-point conversion pass to Flowers — put Baltimore up 31-28. Stafford then guided the Rams into position to take multiple shots to the end zone, and when that failed, Lucas Havrisik made a 36-yard field goal with 7 seconds left to force OT.
Jackson gave Baltimore a 7-3 lead when the Rams let Isaiah Likely run free down the left sideline for a 54-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. Los Angeles answered with a 6-yard TD pass from Stafford to Cooper Kupp.
Odell Beckham Jr. got behind defensive back Jordan Fuller for a 46-yard scoring reception against the team he won a Super Bowl with two seasons ago. But Baltimore again didn’t stay ahead for long.
Wallace was called for lining up in the neutral zone on a fourth-and-5 punt, gifting Los Angeles a first down, and a pass interference penalty on Kyle Hamilton put the Rams in the red zone. Stafford’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Davis Allen gave Los Angeles a 17-14 lead, and the Rams were up 20-17 at the half.
It was tied at 20 when, on third down from the Baltimore 15, a shotgun snap caught Jackson off guard and went past him. The ball went into the end zone and Jackson kicked it out of bounds for a safety.
After Justin Tucker put the Ravens ahead with a field goal, Stafford found former Raven Demarcus Robinson for a 5-yard touchdown with 4:41 remaining, but the Rams’ 2-point conversion was unsuccessful.
Baltimore hasn’t had to come from behind much this season. In fact, this was the first time all season the Ravens trailed after three quarters.
Hamilton left the game with a knee injury. … The Rams were without TE Tyler Higbee (neck). Los Angeles T Rob Havenstein injured his hip, and TE Hunter Long was carted off with a knee injury. Rams WR Tutu Atwell was evaluated for a concussion.
Rams: Host Washington next Sunday.
Ravens: At Jacksonville on Sunday.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL
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