Chargers Jolt Jackson, Ravens
(USA Today Sports)
The Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore Ravens kicked off Sunday’s Wild Card Weekend matchups with a matinee in Baltimore. The Chargers were a five seed in name only, as their 12-4 record showed they were much better than their seed indicated. Meanwhile, the Ravens came in averaging over 200 yards on the ground with rookie Lamar Jackson under center.
The Ravens got fumble-happy early in the game, fumbling three times in their first eight plays and losing one. The Chargers converted the turnover into three points, the first of four Michael Badgley field goals that were the lone points in the half.
The Ravens generated just three first downs on their first ten possessions and were unable to get the run game going. The story of the day was the Chargers defensive scheme. They employed seven defensive backs on every snap, something they did just five percent of the time all season. With faster DBs instead of linebackers, they were able to stifle Jackson and a Raven ground game for most of the game.
The Chargers added another field goal and a touchdown by Melvin Gordon late to extend the lead to 23-3. The Ravens added two late touchdowns late to cut the deficit, but were ultimately unable to complete the comeback and lost 23-17.
The Chargers will head east again for next week’s game, another Sunday afternoon tilt with the New England Patriots. They suffered several injuries during the game, but Melvin Gordon was able to return, a good sign for LA.
As for Baltimore, there are plenty of questions heading into the offseason, starting with their head coach. John Harbaugh is not under contract for next season, and leaving Joe Flacco on the bench is not a good look.
Speaking of Flacco, coach Harbaugh committed to Lamar Jackson as his starting quarterback for the 2019-20 season. He even went as far as to say “Joe is going to have a market,” thus indicating the end of an era for Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens.