Tylan Wallace authors walk-off punt return in Ravens' win

BALTIMORE -- More than three months ago, Tylan Wallace was so unsure whether he was going to make the Baltimore Ravens' 53-man roster that he waited outside the team facility in his car until the 4 p.m. deadline. When no team official told him he was cut, he drove home.

On Sunday, Wallace put the Baltimore Ravens atop the AFC with one of the unlikeliest touchdowns in team history. Calling it a "once-in-a-lifetime moment," Wallace delivered a game-winning, 76-yard punt return for a touchdown in overtime to lift the Ravens to a thrilling and rain-soaked 37-31 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

Wallace, who was filling in for Pro Bowl returner Devin Duvernay (back), had never scored a touchdown nor returned a punt in his three-year NFL career before Sunday's game. He then produced Baltimore's first punt return for a touchdown in five years on just his third runback of the game.

"On that play, we had the return set up and I was like this is perfect opportunity to put the game away," Wallace said. "It just feels great to be able to make a difference in the game and help the team win."

The Ravens (10-3) won for the seventh time in eight games and moved to the top spot in the AFC. The Miami Dolphins (9-3) can reclaim the No. 1 seed by beating the Tennessee Titans on Monday night.

All the Ravens wanted to talk about after the game was Wallace's score two minutes, 18 seconds into overtime. This was the fourth overtime punt return for a touchdown in NFL history.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, coach John Harbaugh and most of the team sprinted to the end zone to celebrate with Wallace.

"That looked like a movie," Jackson said. "That was just a spectacular return. That was crazy."

Wallace is a fourth-round pick from 2021 who is a core special teams player but has received little playing time on offense. He has 11 tackles on special teams and six catches.

Harbaugh said the team considered going with rookie first-round pick Zay Flowers on punt returns, but Baltimore stuck with Wallace, who was next on its depth chart.

"We just felt like, 'Oh he deserves it. He's ready for that moment,'" Harbaugh said. "Now did you think he's going to take it back to the house? No, but I thought he'd catch it [and] maybe make a guy miss."

The winning score served as redemption for Wallace. In the second quarter, Wallace was penalized for being offside on punt coverage, which allowed the Rams to convert a fourth-and-5. Seven plays later, Matthew Stafford capitalized on Wallace's mistake by hitting Davis Allen for a 7-yard touchdown.

"To wipe that all away and make a play like that, on special teams at that, it means the world to me," Wallace said.

After both teams failed to score on their first possessions of overtime, Wallace saw a crease as soon as he fielded the punt and then spun out of a tackle at his own 30-yard line. The scariest part for Wallace came when Rams cornerback Shaun Jolly grabbed his left ankle from behind at the Baltimore 45-yard line, causing him to stumble forward along the left sideline.

"I was about to go down, [but] I can't go down right here," Wallace said. "I made it this far. I'm like, 'I have to keep going. I have to stay up.' So, that's what was kind of going through my mind in that moment."

Wallace has had a challenging start to his NFL career. Last season, he was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, causing him to miss the final five games. This year, he spent time on injured reserve again and was sidelined for six games due to a hamstring injury.

After his winning touchdown Sunday, teammates sprayed him with water when he entered the locker room.

Harbaugh then gave Wallace a hug, saying in his ear, "Everything you fought through, I'm proud of you."