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Ravens Eye View: Breaking Down the Ravens' Miraculous (and Legal) Walk-Off Punt Return Touchdown

Baltimore Ravens punt returner Tylan Wallace (16) returns a punt for a game-winning touchdown as Los Angeles Rams tight end Davis Allen (87) runs behind during overtime of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023, in Baltimore. The Ravens won 37-31.
Baltimore Ravens punt returner Tylan Wallace (16) returns a punt for a game-winning touchdown as Los Angeles Rams tight end Davis Allen (87) runs behind during overtime of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023, in Baltimore. The Ravens won 37-31.

Tylan Wallace was, deservedly, the hero of the Ravens' miraculous 37-31 overtime win against the Los Angeles Rams because of his walk-off 76-yard punt return for a touchdown.

But as is the case in every game-winning play, there were a lot of hands in the success.

"The thing about the punt return is it's kind of the example of all the little things that go into it and all the individual battles that are taking place and the choices that have to be made," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

A closer look at the play shows all the necessary blocks that created a pathway for Wallace to streak up the Ravens' sideline for the score.

The play featured great blocks by the Ravens' gunners: cornerbacks Jalyn Armour-Davis and Ronald Darby, and safety Daryl Worley.

Rookie linebacker Trenton Simpson raced down the field and beat his man to the spot to cut him off.

Tight end Charlie Kolar had the assignment of tracking down his college roommate at Iowa State, Rams linebacker Jacob Hummel, and was able to get a hand on his shoulder.

There's been debate about whether Kolar blocked Hummel in the back, but a slow-motion replay shows Kolar contacted his shoulder and Hummel dove to try to make the tackle.

"I know that was absolutely legal, because I watched it on tape. It was absolutely legal," Harbaugh said. "[Kolar's] hands were in front. For it to be a block in the back, you actually have to block the guy in the back, which he did not do. It doesn't matter how he falls; it's where you contact him."

Linebackers Del'Shawn Phillips and Josh Ross walled off more would-be tacklers and Wallace leaned into a glancing blow from long snapper Alex Ward to stay in-bounds.

While running back Justice Hill took care of punter Ethan Evans, Wallace kept his balance when Rams defensive back Shaun Jolly dove to clip his ankle and he was off to the races from there.

The play wasn't executed flawlessly, but they rarely ever are. That's why adjustments have to be made. A free runner came down the middle, but Phillips let him go and climbed to make a critical block. Wallace shook off the tackler with a spin.

"It's an actual play call, but it's always a little bit different every time," Harbaugh said. "We're always trying to create an alley somewhere. So, you can't always predict if the alley will be all the way outside the coverage, or if it's one of those gaps we might call or lanes inside right down the middle of the field. So, you never know, and the guys always make adjustments based on how they … We say, 'Block them how you find them.'

"The guys just did a good job on that of adjusting and creating that seam. But then we had a guy come through there that we couldn't get to, and Tylan swung him off. You talk about being strong and the balance it took to do that. That's pretty remarkable. But the guys have to make plays, and he did it."

Nelson Agholor gave Lamar Jackson an assist on late touchdown pass

Overtime took the cake, but it never happens without Lamar Jackson's clutch late fourth-quarter touchdown drive. The offense engineered a 13-play, 75-yard drive to take a three-point lead.

At the beginning of the drive, Jackson had some easier throws that came open with good route running (Hill), a tough catch by Odell Beckham Jr., and strong route concepts (Nelson Agholor). Jackson, and his offensive line, also made a superb play turning what could have been a sack into a 9-yard scramble.

Then came the critical moment with the game on the line. Following what was deemed a sack (should have been an incomplete pass), the Ravens faced a third-and-17. In the huddle, Agholor gave Jackson a preview of what was about to come.

With a similar route concept to one that had worked earlier on the drive on Beckham's low catch, Agholor was going to stretch the field and make safety John Johnson III follow him. That would open the middle of the field behind him for Zay Flowers. Sure enough, that's exactly what happened.

Agholor ran the play as it was intended, but Jackson gave him credit to Agholor for giving him a clear preview of what was about to come.

Don't take away anything from Jackson's touchdown throw, however, which traveled more than 34 yards through the air with Aaron Donald in his face.

Jackson closed out the drive with a ridiculous two-point conversion play to Flowers, which was the difference in the game going to overtime and the Rams winning on a walk-off field goal.

Rebound performance from Ronnie Stanley, strong day for O-line.

Ronnie Stanley had a rough game against the Chargers before the bye in his first game back from a second knee injury this season. The bye came at a great time for Stanley, and he clearly felt stronger in his return.

Jackson had significantly more time to throw against the Rams, which was part of the reason why he completed 3-of-9 deep passes for 121 yards (3 TDs & INT), more than twice as many deep passing yards for Jackson as any other game this season, per Next Gen Stats.

The Ravens rotated their offensive tackles against the Rams, using Patrick Mekari and Daniel Faalele to take some snaps off the plates of Stanley and Morgan Moses. That strategy worked out.

Defense gets run on early, but rebounds with splash plays.

The Rams ran the ball nine straight times on their first drive, cramming the ball into the red zone before the Ravens made them settle for a field goal.

Baltimore's run defense stiffened in the second half, however, and they made some splash plays to slow down a talented Rams offense.

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