For three and a half quarters, the Los Angeles Chargers absolutely dominated the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card round.
The Ravens made things interesting in the end, but the Chargers made a great defensive play, something they did multiple times on Sunday, to eliminate the AFC North champions.
It was only a matter of time before a defense gave rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ vaunted rushing attack fits and Gus Bradley made the right adjustments to do just that.
These two teams met in Week 16, a 22-10 win for the Ravens. In that game, the Ravens were able to control the clock and run the ball against the Chargers. However, since Jackson became the Ravens’ starting quarterback, they hadn’t had to face the same defense twice.
At the end of the third quarter, the Chargers led the game 12-3 and the Ravens had less than 100 yards of total offense and -2 yards passing. Yes, -2 yards. That is not a typo.
To start the fourth quarter, Melvin Gordon ran in a 1-yard touchdown run and the Chargers then hit a two-point conversion on a pass to Mike Williams, putting the Chargers up 20-3. The game was over, but the Ravens put up a fight.
Jackson began to show off his arm in the fourth quarter, passing for over 150 yards in the quarter alone and connecting with Michael Crabtree on two touchdown passes to bring the score to 23-17.
The Ravens decided to kick the ball off with just less than two minutes on the clock and two timeouts at their disposal. A first down would have put the game on ice, but the Chargers couldn’t manage to pick one up.
On 3rd-and-6, Gordon took a handoff and ran for the first down, but Russell Okung was flagged for holding. That forced a Chargers punt and suddenly, the game hung in the balance.
Trying to get into position for at least a Hail Mary to the end zone, the Ravens faced 2nd-and-10 from their own 47-yard line. That’s when rookie linebacker Uchenna Nwosu got into the backfield and slapped the ball out of Jackson’s hands. It was recovered by Melvin Ingram, allowing Chargers fans to rejoice.
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Aside from the fourth quarter, it was an excellent day for the Los Angeles defense. The Chargers finished the day with seven sacks and three forced turnovers. Ingram had two sacks and a fumble recovery while Adrian Phillips had a fumble recovery and an interception.
To account for the majority of most of the Chargers’ scoring, reliable kicker Mike Badgley booted five field goals.
The Chargers now know they have a team that can win a tough, grind-it-out playoff game on the road. They’ll have to do the same next weekend in Foxborough when they face the New England Patriots.
That game is scheduled to kick off at 10:05 a.m. PT next Sunday.