Sunday, December 18, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Chargers 34, Ravens 14
By Jamison Hensley
SAN DIEGO -- Rapid reaction from the Baltimore Ravens' 34-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers at Snapdragon Stadium:
What it means: The Ravens (10-4) didn't show up again on the road, but none of those losses were as costly as this one. Depending on how the Pittsburgh Steelers fare at San Francisco tomorrow night, Baltimore might have lost control of the AFC North, a home playoff game and a first-round bye. The Ravens would have been the AFC's top seed if they won out. Now, there is a chance that they'll be a No. 5 seed. The Ravens learned before the game that they clinched a playoff spot as the result of the Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders losing. It was all downhill after that.
Defense gets shredded: Baltimore's much-heralded defense got embarrassed on national television. The Ravens allowed the Chargers to score on their first five drive and allowed a season-high in points in just three quarters of play. With no pass rush on Philip Rivers, he picked apart the Ravens, completing 17 of 23 passes for 270 yards. Rookie first-round pick Jimmy Smith had a rough initiation to a top-tier passing attack, getting picked on frequently.
Flacco roughed up: While Rivers went nearly untouched, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco faced consistent pressure. He was sacked three times by former Ravens linebacker Antwan Barnes. Flacco threw two interceptions in the second half.
The return of Ray Lewis, who was playing in his first game in five weeks, was a non-factor.
Troubling start: The Ravens' opening drive ended with Billy Cundiff missing a 36-yard field goal. Then, Baltimore allowed the Chargers to march 74 yards on 12 plays for a touchdown. It ended the Ravens' streak of not allowing an opponent to score a touchdown on its opening drive at 21 games. That set the tone for the entire game.
What's next: The Ravens return home to play the last-place Cleveland Browns on Saturday.