John Harbaugh called it the “greatest play” he’s ever seen.
One fan on this blog went as far as to call it the “Miracle on Rice.”
On fourth-and-29 late in the fourth quarter, the Ravens needed a first down to keep hopes of forcing overtime alive.
Joe Flacco wasn’t given many options downfield, so he settled for a screen pass to Ray Rice. The Ravens’ star running back started with a stiff arm to break into the open grass, then eluded three tackles as he fought his way toward the opposite sideline.
With a Chargers defensive back, um, charging at Rice as he made his way toward the far edge, wideout Anquan Boldin’s thunderous block provided the last smidgen of space needed to make it the full 29 yards for a first down.
Harbaugh loved it, and recounted some of what he saw.
“We’re all going to talk about the fourth-and-29 play, it’s going to go down in history,” Harbaugh said. “It was just a remarkable play, I said last night, the greatest play I’ve ever seen or been a part of. It was 11 guys who made the play happen. One guy had a real big role in it. It was a sensational play by Ray Rice. Anquan Boldin came back and had as good a football block, legal football block, as physical a block as you’ll ever see in football. ... That made the play happen.”
The play that set up the Ravens’ tying field goal as time expired could serve as the perfect springboard into the team’s second meeting with its most hated rival in three weeks.
Baltimore hosts the Steelers on Sunday, just two weeks after a 13-10 victory at Heinz Field and now holding a three-game divisional lead at 9-2.
This time, however, No. 1 quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could be back from shoulder and rib injuries that sidelined him for the teams’ first meeting.
“I’m going to try,” Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about his return. “It’s killing me to watch.”
And chances of him playing could increase because of the stakes of the game. If the Ravens win, the Steelers cannot catch them in the AFC North race. A Baltimore win and a Cincinnati loss gives the Ravens the division title with four games remaining.
With that being a possibility, do the Ravens feel comfortable heading into their second Steelers Week?
“There is no comfort in football. It’s not allowed. We have no comfort,” Harbaugh said. “The thing our guys have done is, as a team, they’ve positioned themselves really well to take advantage of an opportunity. That’s what you try to do. Every game makes the next game that much more important.
“Pittsburgh has their backs against the wall. But this game, our concern is with us. It’s how we play.”
Last time Baltimore faced the Steelers, the team was coming off a record-setting 55-point outburst. Now, the Ravens have the “Miracle on Rice” and an overtime win contributing the positive momentum.
Harbaugh didn’t want to speculate about any positive effects the team could gain from Rice’s 29-yard scamper.
“For us, it’s not something I’m going to be thinking about right now. Just admire the play,” Harbaugh said. “It’s the greatest play I’ve seen. We’ll see what it means, if we can capitalize on it and stack some success on top of that.”
The Ravens made a roster move Monday as well, and Harbaugh passed along updates on a few injured players.
Baltimore added wideout/return specialist David Reed to the active roster after he spent the first 12 weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list recovering from a torn ACL. To make room, Anthony Levine was placed on injured reserve with a season-ending shoulder injury.
Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe hurt his foot or ankle Sunday and tight end Ed Dickson sprained his knee. Harbaugh said neither is expected to practice much this week, but could have a chance to play Sunday.
In addition, Harbaugh said defensive end Pernell McPhee should practice this week and hopefully can return after missing the last four games with a thigh injury.