“Chargers Win-Feeling The Loss Still”
There’s no doubt about what you saw, and probably no doubt about what you feel.
The Chargers are headed to New England for the second round of the NFL playoffs, after pulling off an upset win in Baltimore, brandishing a type of defense Bolts fans have not seen in years.
The headlines could read lots of ways right now.
‘Gus Bradley out schemes John Harbaugh in Chargers win’
‘Melvin Ingram plays game of his life’
‘Panic stricken Ravens QB gives game to Chargers’
‘Winning ugly is better than losing’.
‘Bolts win 4th tough road game of the year’
‘Bolts win..Ravens coach loses game’
Pick one, pick them all, they all fit.
Gus Bradley, the defensive coordinator, came up with a never seen before defensive scheme, to confuse Ravens QB-Lamar Jackson. He held the ball, he got hit, he turned the ball over, he did nothing offensively till the score was (23-3).
The stat sheet may say the young QB from Louisville threw for (194Y) and added (54Y) rushing. But it will also show him fumbling 3-times, throwing a pick, and putting together an awful 3-quarters of football at the most important time of the year.
Bradley, who devised tremendous game plan packages, making Russell Wilson hold the ball in Seattle, and making Ben Roethlisberger into a check down quarterback in the win in Pittsburgh, moved his safeties into linebacker positions on tons of snaps.
Jackson’s pre snap reads had him looking at Derwin James, Adrian Phillips and Jahleel Addae lined up in linebacker spots. Sometimes they rushed, sometimes they dropped, sometimes they blitzed run gaps. In one stretch, the Ravens had run 20-plays for 38-yards. It was utter chaos for the kid QB.
When Bradley’s defense was done, Jackson was (2-8) for 11-yards and a 0.0 QB-rating at halftime. They went nearly 20-minutes without a first down in the second half, after getting just (69Y) offense in the first half. Who cares what happened in garbage time in the 4th quarter.
Ingram, who has never become the consistent pass rush force many hoped for, had a day of days in his career. He wound up with a fumble recovery, a forced fumble, 2-sacks, 2-QB hits and 2-tackles for losses.
When they were finished looking up at the scoreboard, the Chargers defense had 7-sacks…12-hits…13-pressures and 9-tackles for losses. It was the collective best game the no-name defensive front players, Square-Jones-Rochelle and the like, have ever had..
There’s not much sexy about field goals, but Michael Badgley had 5-of them, and for the first time in a long-long time, the Chargers special teams played a difference. Add in Desmond King’s 33Y-punt return and 72Y-kickoff return, and the Bolts had great field position.
So special was that group, that even a blocked field goal and a tipped punt didn’t bury the Chargers on this unique day.
As for the Ravens, talkshow radio in Baltimore and Washington will crackle over the stubbornness of John Harbaugh, for not sitting the overwhelmed rookie QB, and going to the iconic veteran Joe Flacco, who has sat for 8-weeks. Yes Jackson went (6-1) as a starter, but Flacco’s Super Bowl credentials would have allowed him to make throws down the field, not turn the ball over, and give Baltimore a chance, when they still had a chance.
Four times he was up off the bench in the 3rd-4th quarters with helmet on, but Harbaugh never turned to him to try and rally a besieged offense. He will be traded in the off season, but Harbaugh won’t be able to get away from the fact he ignored a successful track record QB to stay with the kid, running for his life.
Instant replay sure impacted the emotions of the game. The Ravens got a TD from Michael Crabtree in the fourth quarter. They had a 102-yard fumble recovery for a TD taken off the books on a judgmental call on a Melvin Gordon goal line fumble.
Replay denied both Derek Watt and Gordon on TD plays too. The Bolts survived dropped passes from Keenan Allen-Tyrell Williams. Baltimore could not survive 3-costly third down penalties that keep Philip Rivers drives going, nor a bad holding call that negated a Jackson 18-yard run that could have changed the chemistry of the game early in the second half.
In what has turned out to be an improbable season, the Chargers won in Baltimore, just two weeks after the Ravens dropped the hammer on them in LA. Add this medal to the other road victories in Seattle-Pittsburgh-Kansas City.
Anthony Lynn’s head coach leadership, and the creativeness of his coordinators, game-by-game, has led this team to (13-4) and punched a ticket to go back to New England. The Bolts by the way are (1-7) in Rivers-Tom Brady matchups.
There’s no doubt about what you saw on Sunday, the win against the Ravens, it was impressive.
There’s no doubt probably about what you feel, continued bitterness towards Dean Spanos, for stealing the team and moving to Los Angeles.
Tough to root for the quarterback and root against the owner, but that’s the emotional crossroads fans in San Diego are at in the intersection of these playoffs.
A big win, but still a bitter loss in the heart of the people in San Diego.