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Michael Campanaro, Bobby Rainey React to Wild Touchdown Returns

Posted Oct 15, 2017

Michael Campanaro broke a 77-yard punt return touchdown to set up a game-tying two-point conversion. Bobby Rainey, who Baltimore re-signed this week, was tripped up by his own man and got up to score a 96-yard touchdown.

Devoid of much offense, the Ravens special teams unit delivered the bulk of the Ravens' points Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium.

Baltimore got two huge special teams touchdowns in a 27-24 overtime loss against the Chicago Bears. It didn’t prove to be enough, but it kept things interesting for sure.

“I thought our guys played their hearts out,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “They fought their way back. The two special teams touchdowns were huge, obviously, in the game. It’s not for lack of heart; that’s for sure. It’s not for lack of effort.”

That heart was best personified on special teams by running back/kick returner Bobby Rainey and wide receiver/punt returner Michael Campanaro.

First Rainey shocked the entire stadium by popping up after everybody thought he was down, racing for a 96-yard kickoff return touchdown.

Then Campanaro did him one better, returning a punt 77 yards for a touchdown in the final two minutes to set up a game-tying two-point conversion and send the game into overtime.

It’s a feel-good story for both players.

Campanaro is finally getting his chance after three injury-riddled seasons, and it’s the first special teams touchdown of his NFL career. A fan-favorite dating back to 2012 when he was a preseason star in Baltimore, Rainey was re-signed this week after Terrance West went down with a calf injury.

Here’s how both wacky plays went down, and how each player reacted to them after the game.

Rainey brought the Ravens back from the dead when they trailed by 14 points, 17-3, with six minutes left in the third quarter. It was one of the wackier kickoff return touchdowns fans will ever see.

Rainey ran up the middle and was touched by a diving Bears tackler, but that’s not what caused him to go down. A couple steps later, Rainey ran into rookie linebacker Tyus Bowser and flipped over him.

Another Bears special teamer, safety Deon Bush, fell near Rainey, but didn’t touch him while he was on the ground. As the horde of players slowed to a stop, thinking the play was over, Rainey popped to his feet and outraced a Bears defender to the end zone.

It was the first kickoff return for a touchdown in the NFL this season, and may still stand as the zaniest by year’s end.

The play went to official review, but was upheld (not confirmed). Earlier this year in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, an Eric Weddle interception return for a touchdown was nullified by a quick referee whistle. This time, the refs let it play out, which turned out to be the right move.

“That’s what you’re taught, to play until the whistle,” Rainey said. “I kind of knew that the guy didn’t tag me down. My own guy flipped me. When I got up, I only saw my guys around me and I didn’t hear the whistle. I saw the ref to my left and he didn’t stop, so I kept going.”

Campanaro’s punt return touchdown wasn’t as wacky, but it was even more exhilarating considering the timing. The Ravens trailed by eight points with under two minutes left when he fielded the punt and broke up the left sideline.

The only Bears special teamer that got close to Campanaro was cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc, but Campanaro hurdled his tackle and skipped into the end zone with one minute, 37 seconds left on the clock. The Ravens tied the game with a two-point conversion throw to tight end Nick Boyle.

“It was just designed great,” Campanaro said. “[Special Teams Coordinator] Jerry Rosburg had it lined up, and we were just able to get an edge on that sideline, some key blocks, no penalties and we were able to take it to the house.”

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