When Steve Smith Sr. was carried off the field with a towel over his head after tearing his Achilles tendon, it was as if all of M&T Bank Stadium was mourning.
One of the lone bright spots in Baltimore's torturous season was out.
The Ravens trailed by a touchdown at the time, late in the third quarter.
But just when it looked like Baltimore might have the proverbial fork stuck in it, quarterback Joe Flacco and his band of reserve receivers stepped up, delivering an emotional 29-26 win over the Chargers.
Wide receiver Kamar Aiken caught four passes for 51 yards and drew a huge pass interference penalty after Smith went down. Receivers Jeremy Ross and Chris Givens also made big catches on Baltimore's final two drives.
The Chargers marched down the field to tie the game with a 48-yard field goal, but the offense had an opportunity to win the game. And this time, it did.
With starting center Jeremy Zuttah on the bench with a shoulder injury, the Ravens faced a third-and-19 after a wayward snap by backup center John Urschel pushed them out of field-goal range. But – finally – a penalty call went Baltimore's way. A pass interference flag put kicker Justin Tucker in range for a game-winning 39-yard field goal.
Tucker hit five field goals on the day from 48, 29, 48, 45 and 39 yards, respectively.
Flacco had one of his best games of the season, going 25-of-37 for 319 yards, one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown. His 1-yard quarterback sneak put the Ravens ahead in the fourth quarter.
The win moves Baltimore to 2-6 and gives the Ravens some positive momentum heading into the bye.
A high snap by Urschel knocked the Ravens out of field-goal range and nearly turned the ball over had Flacco not pounced on it. On the next play, Aiken streaked down the right sideline and got a lot of contact from cornerback Steve Williams. The 21-yard penalty put the Ravens back in field-goal range.
- The Ravens opened their second drive with what looked to be an improvised bomb to Smith. Flacco rolled out to his right and threw an off-balance heave to Smith, who was blanketed by cornerback Jason Verrett. Smith adjusted to the throw and leapt above Verrett to snag the pass for 46 yards. The Ravens got a 29-yard field goal afterwards, taking a 6-3 lead in the first quarter.
- Linebacker Zach Orr ripped the ball out of running back Melvin Gordon's hands, but Gordon was able to fall right on top of it for the recovery. On the very next play, Rivers hit wide receiver Malcom Floyd for a 9-yard touchdown to give the Chargers a 10-6 lead.
- Flacco rolled left for what seemed like an eternity to buy time on fourth-and-1 from the San Diego 23-yard line. Eventually he found Aiken, who made a tough sideline catch to move the chains. The Ravens were in the end zone four plays later on a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Crockett Gillmore. Baltimore re-took the lead at 13-10 with about five minutes left in the first half.
- Chargers top receiver Keenan Allen took over on the final drive of the first half. He converted with catches on two third downs, then made a spectacular leaping grab for a 13-yard touchdown with nine seconds remaining, giving San Diego a 16-13 halftime lead. Cornerback Asa Jackson blocked the extra point.
Flacco had the deep ball working. In rare fashion, he used it to hit fullback Kyle Juszczyk for a career-long 39-yard gain, setting up the Ravens for another field goal to tie the game in the third quarter at 16. * On third-and-10, Rivers took a huge hit from defensive end Lawrence Guy and safety Kendrick Lewis, but hung in just long enough to deliver a 70-yard touchdown pass to Floyd, putting the Chargers up, 23-17. Floyd flew past cornerback Kyle Arrington to get wide open. With Lewis blitzing, he only had safety Will Hill to beat in a foot race. * Smith left the game with a foot injury in the third quarter, just when the Ravens looked to be mounting another solid drive. Baltimore settled for another field goal, this time from 45 yards out. * After the defense made a big stop with the Chargers pinned back against their own end zone, the offense marched down the field to score the go-ahead touchdown with 4:37 remaining. Ross set up Flacco's 1-yard sneak touchdown with a 12-yard catch and run. Flacco saved the play by recovering a botched snap and still getting it to Ross. * The Chargers tied the game with a 9-play drive kicked off by a 26-yard catch and run by running back Danny Woodhead. Baltimore stiffened on its side of the field, however, aided by a false start penalty on San Diego. The Chargers settled for a 48-yard game-tying field goal.
QB Joe Flacco
Without his top target, Flacco stepped up. He didn't have any memorable missed throws and was on point throughout the day. Flacco didn't put up his biggest numbers of the season, but he was clutch when it mattered down the stretch. He led three straight scoring drives to end the game.
Stat Of The Game
Before going down with an injury, Smith moved into 10th all-time in career receiving yards, surpassing Hall of Famer Cris Carter (13,907 yards).
Go down onto the field at M&T Bank Stadium for all the best images from Ravens game action.