With a chance to get a step closer to a division title and first-round bye thanks to the Houston Texans’ loss today, the Baltimore Ravens traveled cross-country to face a sub-.500 team. As was the outcome when the Ravens traveled cross-country to meet the sub-.500 Seahawks, though, the Ravens come away with a loss as Philip Rivers and Ryan Mathews shredded Baltimore’s defense en route to a 34-14 win.
The game started even, as after Billy Cundiff missed a field goal on the opening possession, the teams traded touchdowns. The Chargers went up 10-7, and then hit the halftime double-whammy, as Ryan Mathews scored in the final minute of the first half for a 17-7 lead, then Philip Rivers capped off the first possession of the second half on a 28-yard strike to Malcom Floyd. Joe Flacco would throw his first interception of the game, this one to Takeo Spikes, and Mathews’ second touchdown plunge of the game made the San Diego lead 31-7 and the rout was on.
With the Ravens’ loss, Monday Night Football takes on added importance for the Steelers in the race for the top of the AFC North, while the Chargers kept alive slim hopes at the AFC West title.
1. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers. Only one touchdown, but he looked comfortable in the pocket, threw the ball accurately downfield, and never made the crucial mistake he’s made so often this year. His 270 yards passing put him over 4,000 on the season again.
2. Antwan Barnes, OLB, Chargers. Three sacks of Joe Flacco on the evening.
3. Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers. Five catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. When he’s been in the game, he’s been Rivers’ most efficient target.
1. Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens. Two interceptions, including a ghastly one right to Takeo Spikes. He had some nice throws mixed with some awful throws against a Chargers secondary that previously had been eminently exploitable. Can he be the force the Ravens will need hiim to be in the postseason? Based on tonight’s performance, don’t count on it.
2. Terrell Suggs, OLB/DE, Ravens. Only two tackles, no sacks, and no real effect on the game against a Chargers’ offensive line that’s been about as injured as any in football.
3. Jimmy Smith, CB, Ravens. The first-round rookie had five tackles not because he had a good game, but because he was targeted in coverage with regularity.