Ravens Defense Flexes Their Muscles, Dominate Herbert and the Chargers
Leading up to Sundays matchup many experts had the Ravens and Chargers poised to have a high scoring, battle to the final whistle kind of game. Both defenses had struggled to begin the year as both the Ravens and Chargers are in the bottom half of the league in total defense. On the other side of the ball however, the Ravens and Chargers sit amongst the top five in total offense. The Ravens coming off a thrilling 19-point comeback on Monday night, while the Chargers were a week removed from a 47-42 win over the Cleveland Browns. All these factors pointed to this week six contest being another instant classic for the Ravens.
The Ravens on the other hand had other ideas, as they imposed their will from the opening drive and never let up in route to a dominate 34-6 win, while holding Justin Herbert and the Chargers offense to 208 total yards.
The Ravens defense, that gives up an average of 359 yards per game, got their opportunity first as Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert lead the Chargers offense out for the opening drive of the game. After giving up a third and long completion to Chargers tight end Jared Cook, the Ravens defense stood tall forcing the Chargers to punt five plays later.
The Ravens took over for their first offensive drive and looked to start fast, something that this Ravens offense had failed to do so far this season. The Ravens took advantage of a Chargers defense that ranks last in the NFL in rushing, giving up 162 rushing yards per game to opposing offenses. Ravens running back Latavius Murray began the drive with an eight yard run. Eleven plays later Murray would cap the drive off with a 14-yard touchdown run.
After a quick three and out by the Chargers. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense took over for their second drive of the game. Jackson would find his tight end Andrews for nine yards to end the first quarter moving to the Chargers side of the field. Four plays later the Ravens would again find the end zone on a Le’Veon Bell two yard touchdown run, his first as a Raven. With 13:24 remaining in the first half the Ravens had taken a 14-0 lead and would never look back.
After the Ravens and Chargers traded punts on their next offensive possessions. The Chargers tried to grab momentum back by going for it on fourth down from their own 39 yard line. Hebert dropped back to pass, looking for his receiver Mike Williams, but Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey was their to break up the pass giving the ball back to the Ravens offense with great field position.
A Lamar Jackson sack on first down moved the Ravens out of field goal range, but after a Jackson scramble for five yards, and a Marquise Brown 10 yard reception. Justin Tucker was able to connect on a 52-yard field goal to extend the Ravens lead to 17.
Justin Herbert would continue to struggle on the Chargers next possession. On first down from the Chargers own 42 yard line, Herbert looked to find his tight end, Cook down the left side of the field. But Ravens safety DeShon Elliott, who was out the last two weeks due to injury, was there to jump in front of Cook snatching the ball away for an interception. Herbert’s third interception on the season.
Following the interception the Ravens began their drive on their own 37 yard line looking to grow their lead with just over four minutes remaining in the half. However, on the very next play Jackson was looking for rookie receiver Rashod Bateman deep across the middle. Jackson failed to see Chargers linebacker Kyzir White dropping underneath Bateman in coverage and threw a perfect pass hitting White right in the chest for the interception.
The Chargers would have their best starting field position of the day taking over at the Ravens 27 yard line. Herbert would find receiver Mike Williams for 26-yards down to the Ravens one yard line. The Chargers would finally breakthrough on the scoreboard on a one yard Herbert pass to Jared Cook. Chargers kicker, Tristan Vizcaino would miss the extra point.
The Ravens would take a 17-6 lead into halftime.
The Ravens received the second half kickoff and the offense picked up right where they left off. Jackson would find the rookie Bateman twice in the drive, both times on key third downs to move the chains. The Ravens methodically moved down the field on their first drive of the second half. Taking up over seven minutes, Jackson found Mark Andrews wide open for a nine yard score, finishing off a 12-play drive.
The Ravens defense would also come out in the second half picking up where they left off. With the Ravens up by 18, the Chargers would again try go for it on fourth down in their own territory. Once again the Ravens defense held up forcing an incomplete pass on fourth and short.
Jackson and the Ravens took over on the Chargers 18 yard line, but for the first time all afternoon the Ravens would not gain any positive yards. The Ravens ran three plays beginning with a Freeman run that lost three yards followed by two Jackson incomplete passes. But because of the great field position Justin Tucker was able to make an easy 39-yard field goal.
On the Ravens following offensive possession after another Chargers punt, Freeman would join in on the scoring becoming the third running back to find the end zone on the day. Freeman finished off a nine play 65 yard drive with a nine yard run to begin the fourth quarter.
Down 34-6 to begin the fourth quarter the Chargers hopes of winning were all but lost. Following a Chargers punt on their first drive of the fourth quarter, the Ravens looked to drain the clock.
On third down Jackson again looked Bateman’s way, hitting the rookie in the chest across the middle. The ball bounced off Bateman and into the diving arms of Chargers linebacker Kyzir White, his second interception of the game. A disappointing drop for Bateman who was making his NFL debut, but one that he can use to build on.
With the hopes of winning gone for the Chargers, they had one last chance to move the ball and reach the end zone just one last time. Hebert had his best drive throwing on the Chargers final drive moving the ball down to the Ravens 19 yard line. On third down Ravens linebacker Justin Houston after being so close all afternoon, finally got to Herbert bringing him down for the sack. His second sack of the season and his 99.5 career sack. On fourth down Herbert’s pass fell incomplete, broken up by Anthony Averett, who struggled last Monday night but had a strong showing on Sunday against the Chargers.
The Ravens showed the potential this team has when they play a complete game on both sides of the ball. The Chargers explosive offense was held to its lowest yardage and point total for the year thus far, and is a good confidence builder for a Ravens defense that has been disappointing to say the least through five weeks.
The Ravens will look to extend their win streak as they battle the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC North showdown next Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank stadium.
Lamar Jackson passed Dan Marino for most wins in NFL history (35) before the age of 25.
Mark Andrews caught his third touchdown in two games, after going four weeks without a single touchdown reception.
Rashod Bateman was targeted six times, catching four passes for 29 yards in his first NFL game.
Running back Latavius Murray and Center Bradley Bozeman both went down late in the game with injuries, neither finished the game.
Linebacker Josh Bynes saw more playing time Sunday, finishing with a team high six tackles