Well folks, another game, another Chargers loss – this week in overtime against the Baltimore Ravens: Chargers 13 – Ravens 16.
It seems the Bolts are really successful in creating new ways to pain us fans. Just to name a few of their “methods of torture” so far: Losing to a division rival with 35 unanswered points; losing to the Browns in a low score game (with no touchdown score); and finally losing to a crappy Ravens offense by allowing Ray Rice to run for a first down at fourth-and-29!
Well, whatever, now let´s recap the game and grade the Chargers in all three phases.
It may sound unbelievable, but compared to the Ravens offense in the first half, our guys on the offensive side of the ball were pretty solid.
It´s not easy to find an offense these days which sucks more than the one from San Diego. But watching Joe Flacco trying to connect with his receivers was actually very encouraging – if you´re a Bolthead, of course. I mean, the Ravens finished the first half with 90 yards on offense with no score! One could question how they could manage to win nine of their 11 games with offensive performances like that!
Regardless, we´re not here to discuss the performance of the Ravens; we´re gonna talk about the Chargers offense.
Well again, they had a slow start – nothing new to a Chargers fan this season!
But after punting the ball three times in a row, they were able to finish a 78-yard drive with a touchdown score by M80 Malcom Floyd. Philip Rivers did a good job on that play, by catching a very low snap by Nick Hardwick and connecting with the open receiver in the end zone.
Now that I’ve mentioned Rivers… Boltheads, listen to this: He didn´t get picked off!
It was only his third game without throwing an interception (the others being the Raiders and Browns games). It was very obvious that avoiding such an interception was on top of Rivers´ priority list. He didn´t try to force it and threw away the ball a couple of times to specifically avoid the possibility of an interception. Actually these decisions were pretty wise, but of course it also doesn´t help to get points on the board (“low score game”).
And as I wrote on my last Report Card, I still don´t know what to think about Ryan Mathews.
He actually looked good on his first rushing attempts. He couldn´t gain much yardage, but he broke some tackles and was showing speed and power. Somehow it looks like he is misused. Those run plays through the middle… there was just no way to run through. I don´t wanna reopen old sores, but I really would like to see what Ryan Mathews could do under a head coach like Marty Schottenheimer… we´ll never find out.
Danario Alexander was again the most targeted Chargers receiver with five catches on eight targets for 74 yards. Antonio Gates on the other hand only had two catches for 13 yards and Robert Meachem was on the field for two snaps only. He was held out of game with no target and thus no reception. Not because he´s hurt or something. No, it´s because he sucks! That´s the reason why! He is definitely worth the $25.5 million contract he´s been given, “for sure.”
I can´t close this section without taking a quick look at Norv´s play calling: Passing three times when having a three-point lead with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter? Ever heard of running down the clock, Norv?
And I don´t know if I want to talk about the O-Line too much here, because it´s just too banged up, too injury-prone. They allowed six sacks on Philip Rivers… enough said, I´ll leave it at that…
Offense Grade: D+
Well, after the last two weeks with blocked punts in each of the games, I have to say: Well done guys – no blocked punts, no turnovers, no “2010 flashbacks” this time. Thank you!
But instead of turning the ball over, they allowed a kick return to the 34-yard line. We haven´t seen big returns by opposing teams so far. But this time we did see a decent one by Baltimore´s returning unit. However, as the Ravens offense couldn´t make something out of it, it wasn´t too painful.
Mike Scifres showed again he is one of the absolutely best punters in the league. Good to have him on board… but healthy please! You could see he was in pain again. Getting smashed up in two consecutive games… your body won´t forget it. But injured or not, Scifres gets onto the field and does his job – and he does it very well!
Nick Novak had the chance to score twice, and score twice he did . The first field goal was good for 47 yards, the second one for 30 yards. So Novak again was very solid.
Special Teams Grade: B+
Holding down the opposing offense to zero points in the first half and forcing them to punt on every drive, I guess you have to call that “solid.”
And I am calling it solid, as they really did a good job on slowing down the offense. To be fair, Flacco and the whole Ravens offense didn´t give them a hard hard time in doing their job appropriately (as I already mentioned above, “they sucked,” especially in the first half).
But on their first drive in the third quarter, Baltimore totaled 59 yards keyed by a 54-yard catch-and-run by Torrey Smith.
Marcus Gilchrist screwed up on that play by missing the key tackle. But he got back on his feet and was able to stop Smith on his way to the end zone. Luckily for the Chargers, the Ravens couldn´t make more than three points out of it via a field goal by Justin Tucker.
But as the second half of the game went on, Flacco and his guys stepped up ’til they finally were able to score seven points late in the fourth quarter.
One dude has to be pointed out here and be placed on top of the plus list, and that is Corey Liuget: five tackles, one third-down sack, one defended pass! He has been dominant against the run and rushing the passer. He was actually close to knocking away more passes, and considering past games as well, he seems to be the guy making the big play when it’s needed most on defense.
Shareece Wright had some great moments too. With five tackles and one defended pass, he also has his place on top of that above mentioned list. Unfortunately for Wright, Antoine Cason, too, had a good game. So he won´t get the start over Cason yet (and of course, no matter what Quentin Jammer does on the field, he´ll only be benched due to an injury).
I already mentioned one sack by Corey Liuget, but I´m glad to report that our beasts on the defense got to the quarterback four more times. Two of those sacks, along with a forced fumble, came from Antwan Barnes. Another one was a co-production between Jarret Johnson (not joking!) and Takeo Spikes. And of course Shaun Phillips added one too. Who else? It was his 67th career sack, tied for second most in Chargers history with Gary “Big Hands” Johnson! Congrats, mighty sack master!
So this time our beasts on the defensive front came up with a strong pass rush (unlike in previous games this season).
And last but not least, we´ve to talk about a play that´s known as “4th & 29.”
Ray Rice caught a short pass from Flacco and returned it to the 33.5-yard line for a first down.
This play will be remembered for years.
Being able to rush for a first down on fourth-and-29 is just… it´s hard to find a “publishable” word to describe crap like this, but let´s just call it “unbelievable.”
Maybe unbelievable for people outside Bolt Nation, but that play somehow represents the reality for the Chargers in 2012. I wonder how many Chargers fans felt their team would screw up seconds before that play – 90%, 92% or 95%?
And as if the Chargers weren´t screwed enough by this embarrassment, Eric Weddle suffered a concussion on a hit by Anquan Boldin(!). Maybe that should have been called an illegal block in the back, but I don´t wanna go too deep into that right now.
So after nine-plus minutes of reviewing the play and calling it a first down by the referees, the Ravens ended this drive with a field goal to tie the game 13-13. Of course that meant overtime! Needless to say, the Chargers screwed up in that fifth quarter too, although they won the coin toss and got the ball first.
To close this section with more bad news: Besides Eric Weddle and Donald Butler, Atari Bigby and special teams captain Darrel Stuckey had to leave the field due to injury without being able to return.
Defense Grade: C-
So, what´s left to say?