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At First Glance: Ravens vs. Chargers

BaltimoreRavens.com writers give their first impressions of the Ravens’ 34-14 loss.

Posted by BR.com on Sunday, December 18th, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Categories: At First Glance, Garrett Downing, Ryan Mink, Sarah Ellison, Week 15 vs Chargers

John Eisenberg: The Ravens knew they were in for a tough night against a dangerous opponent, but they didn’t expect it to be this tough. The Chargers completely destroyed the notion that the Ravens’ defense is an immovable object. There were multiple breakdowns. The pass rush couldn’t touch Philip Rivers, giving him plenty of time to find open receivers, of which there were many. The Chargers’ receivers turned Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith around and around all night. The defense actually looked overmatched. Meanwhile, the offense had a few moments early but disintegrated as the game wore on, with the wideouts unable to get separation. The Ravens ceded their clear path to home-field advantage in the playoffs with this forgettable performance, which could be a problem. They play a lot better at home.

Ryan Mink: This was disastrous all the way around. The Chargers’ high-powered offense just rolled over Baltimore’s defense in a way that is very rarely seen. The Ravens didn’t get any pass rush and their cornerbacks were beaten by San Diego’s 6-foot-5 wide receivers consistently. This was the first time the Ravens really got BEAT this year, and it’s not what you want to see as the Ravens head into the playoffs. Baltimore has to hope for help now if they’re going to get a home playoff game.

Garrett Downing: For the first time this season, the Ravens suffered a dominating defeat. They had no answers for Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense, which marched up and down the field the entire game. The Ravens couldn’t get pressure on Rivers, and the young cornerbacks struggled to cover San Diego’s big wide receivers. Rivers picked apart the Ravens secondary, which clearly missed a hobbled Lardarius Webb, and fixing problems in the passing defense will be a priority moving forward. The Ravens didn’t have any breathing room at the top of the AFC, and now they no longer control their own destiny. Instead, they’re left counting on Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers to deliver an early Christmas gift with a victory tomorrow over Pittsburgh.

Sarah Ellison: The story of the game was quarterback pressure. Heading into the matchup, the Chargers’ weakness was protecting Philip Rivers – they’ve had 11 different starters on the offensive line. As the NFL leader in sacks, the Ravens were primed to expose that flaw, but didn’t, which allowed Rivers to pick apart the secondary. He specifically picked on rookie Jimmy Smith. With a 17-7 halftime deficit, the first time the Ravens trailed at the break since their loss in Seattle, Baltimore had to abandon the running attack. But Joe Flacco didn’t get the ball moving because he turned out to be the quarterback who was relentlessly under pressure. San Diego took him down five times for 40 yards. The Ravens fall behind the Patriots in the conference, but how much this loss will ultimately hurt in the division depends on what happens tomorrow night in San Francisco between the 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers.

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