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When Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is on, he’s one of the best in the game.
But when he’s getting hit and flustered, he has a tendency to make mistakes, which often leads to turnovers for an opportunistic defense.
“He is a quarterback that hates to get hit and loves to win,” Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. “If we can get in front of his face and hit him often, I think it gets him a little frustrated.”
Rivers is a fiery quarterback, with a reputation of showing his emotions out on the field, and when the sacks start to come, the frustration is evident.
“You can see that he really starts to get on his linemen and into the refs and talking about some hits,” Ngata said.
Getting pressure on the passer is a goal for the Ravens heading into every week, and Baltimore has been the best team in the NFL at doing it.
The Ravens lead the NFL with 45 sacks, and the approach for this week is no different.
“We’re going to try to get after every quarterback all the time if we can, and however they react to it or respond to it is up to them,” Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “But [Rivers] is a great competitor. You can see that. You can see he’s one of the great competitors in the National Football League, and in our view, that’s probably a big strength of his.”
Rivers, much like the Chargers, has been up and down this season.
He is sixth in the NFL in passing yards (3,745) and has 22 passing touchdowns. But he also has 17 interceptions, and has turned the ball over at least twice in every game the Chargers have lost.
In nearly all of their losses, sacks have been an issue. Rivers has been sacked an average of 2.4 times in San Diego’s seven losses, and they have allowed 30 on the season, eighth most in the NFL.
The Chargers have a tough task ahead of them this week as they look for a way to stop Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who has seven sacks in the last three games.
“Suggs is a great rusher, and we don’t plan on leaving anyone alone on him,” Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner said.
Suggs had nothing but good things to say about Rivers, who threw for 436 yards and two touchdowns the last time he faced the Ravens in 2009.
“I am a Philip Rivers fan,” Suggs said. “I like his fire. That’s what you need in your quarterback.”
A big part of the struggles in protecting Rivers is that the Chargers have gone through a handful of offensive linemen, using 13 players over the course of the year after their starting left tackle and left guard went on injured reserve.
San Diego recently signed former Ravens left tackle Jared Gaither, who has moved into the starting role and played well in the last two games.
Rivers has been sacked only twice in those contests, and he has completed 75 percent of his passes for 534 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.
He hasn’t thrown an interception in the last three games, and appears to be getting into a groove.
The Ravens don’t want to allow that rhythm to continue, and will be looking to get in his face early and often.
“Once we can do that to him, get him frustrated, it’s going to be a better game for us,” Ngata said.