By Danny Cox
Sometimes there is embarrassing play, and then other times there is just an embarrassing play. On Sunday afternoon, the San Diego Chargers were the victim of the latter and it ended up leading to their 16-13 overtime defeat to the Baltimore Ravens. Sure, it may be just another loss in a shameful season, but this one just really had to hurt.
Facing a fourth-and-29 in their own territory with only 1:37 to go in regulation, the Ravens were trailing by three points and turned to running back Ray Rice. Somehow, Rice found an opening in the field the size of the Grand Canyon, and kept the drive alive. It ended up leading to a game-tying field goal and then an eventual loss in overtime.
By now, it’s just considered typical.
When all is said and done, anyone can say that it was the players that blew a coverage or missed a tackle, but the blame does all fall on the shoulders of the coach. Norv Turner just keeps on digging a deeper hole for himself that he won’t be able to find his way out of. The only place he’s going to find himself out of is San Diego once the season is over.
There is no reason in the world that Ray Rice should have been able to gain 29 yards on fourth down near the end of the fourth quarter. Joe Flacco looked at Rice and not only saw him open, but saw him open enough to go wherever he wanted. That single play took away huge points in what was a decently called game by Turner, and it is really the only one that will be remembered. Grade: D+
The offensive side of things really wasn’t all that bad for the Chargers as they built a very quick 10-0 lead and then had a 13-3 lead halfway through the third quarter. Philip Rivers played a solid game completing 23-of-36 passes for 228 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. Running back Ryan Mathews even looked good carrying the ball 19 times for 17 yards.
Oh, it’s not all peaches and cream, though. Rivers was sacked six times by the Ravens for a total loss of 39 yards. That amount of sacks is unacceptable over a three-game span, let alone a single outing. Sacks killed a number of drives and kept the stats from looking more impressive and the score from being higher, the latter of which the Chargers desperately ended up needing. Grade: C
Joe Flacco had 51 pass attempts and completed 30 of them for 355 yards and one touchdown. Ray Rice ended up running 22 times for 97 yards and also caught eight balls for 67 yards. Torrey Smith had a big day as well as he caught seven receptions for 144 yards. None of these numbers bode well for how the performance of the Chargers’ defense looked.
One positive note is that the Chargers did rack up five sacks of Flacco, but they couldn’t get a single turnover. Not all teams get a turnover every game, but the Chargers had plenty of chances in this one as the Ravens ran 91 offensive plays.
That’s right, 91. Baltimore ran 91 offensive plays and racked up a total of 443 yards. That is embarrassing no matter whom you are, and if not for the sacks, this grade would be a lot worse. Grade: D-
Well, they had to get something right in order to keep the game as close as it was. Chris Carr of the Chargers had return duties, but only had three opportunities total. He returned on kickoff for 25 yards and two punts for a total of 11 yards. Nothing much there.
Nick Novak did hit two field goals including a 47-yarder and then later a 30-yard attempt, and ended up keeping San Diego in the game. Had he not connected on those two kicks, then this wouldn’t have even been a contest.
Punter Mike Scifres also did his job of keeping the Chargers competitive as he had a lot of work to do on Sunday. Scifres punted nine times for an average of 53.2 yards, and that includes a booming 63-yard boot. Grade: B+
Had it not been for special teams, this game would not have even been close, but the Ravens didn’t play all-out either. San Diego is looking worse and worse as the weeks go on, and right now they might as well hope that the place they land in the 2013 NFL Draft is a good one — one that gets them help of some kind, any kind at all.
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.