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Chargers Exact Revenge, Beat Ravens 23-17 in AFC Wild Card Round

January 06, 2019 - 8:21 pm
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By Joe Schiller

Twelve years ago, the Baltimore Ravens suffered a 15-6 defeat to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional Round.

It was a game that featured only field goals.

Through three quarters of Sunday’s AFC Wild Card matchup, the game rang a similar tune, not in the Ravens' favor. 

The Ravens battled back from 20-point fourth quarter deficit to come within a touchdown but Uchenna Nwosu’s strip on Lamar Jackson ended Baltimore’s playoff run as Los Angeles exacted revenge. 

An offensive formula that thrived under Jackson for seven games met its match facing the Chargers for the second time in three weeks. 

Head coach Anthony Lynn and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley executed a near perfect gameplan, stacking the box to force Jackson out of his comfort zone. The rookie looked uneasy and ball security continued to be a problem early on in the game.

Jackson fumbled twice and Kenneth Dixon’s fumble on the second offensive drive was recovered Melvin Ingram in Charger territory. Michael Badgley's 21-yard field goal gave Los Angeles an early 3-0 lead.

Badgley finished 5-of-6 on the day, four which came in the first half.

Jackson and the offense struggled to find any semblance of a rhythm in the first half. Drives that showed promise ended in punts or turnovers, resulting in boos from the 70,000+ in attendance.

John Harbaugh continued to stick with his rookie quarterback, as Joe Flacco stood on the sidelines prepared to play if needed and fans continously chanted No. 5's name. 

The Ravens blocked a field goal and forced a fumble on consecutive drives coming out of the half and came away with only three points. Wink Martindale’s unit held the Chargers to 243 yards and played well enough to win the game.

But the inability to capitilize off of turnovers proved to be the difference. 

Melvin Gordon’s 1-yard touchdown run and Badgley’s 47-yard field goal gave Los Angeles a 23-3 lead with 9:09 left in the fourth quarter. And while fans began to leave their seats for the parking lot, a resilient Ravens team sparked a comeback. 

What was a quiet M&T Bank Stadium for most of the game got back on their feet following two Michael Crabtree touchdown catches. Jackson took advantage of a passive Chargers defense that was playing off the ball and found his veteran receiver on passes of 31 and 7 yards on back-to-back drives to cut the lead to 23-17. 

A 3-and-out gave Baltimore one final chance with 54 seconds. Needing a touchdown win with no timeouts, the Ravens only ran one true play – a 13-yard catch by Mark Andrews before Jackson’s fumble ended the game.

The Chargers advance to face the New England Patriots next Sunday in the AFC Divisional Round while the Ravens advance to the crucial offseason with plenty of important decisions to be made within the coming months.