When this game was noted on the Ravens schedule, every fan knew it would be a tough one to win. Both teams coming off franchise best seasons clashing in week 12 in San Diego, it was thought this game might even be for the home field advantage throughout the playoffs! My, isn't it crazy how eleven weeks can change things in the NFL? At 7-5, the Chargers have a one game lead in the AFC West, while the 4-7 Ravens have claimed the basement of the AFC North, based on their getting swept in their season series by the 4-7 Cincinnati Bengals.
While I fully expected the Ravens to lose, and my prediction in yesterday morning's posting was 26-17 (pretty close to actual 32-14 score), I stupidly expected the Ravens to give the Chargers a game, based on our never-quitting defense and Philip Rivers inconsistency. Wow, was I wrong on both counts!
The Ravens wandering defensive backs obviously were in foul moods and needed to be alone, because they seemed to totally ignore the Chargers' receivers all afternoon. It wasn't the three touchdown passes that stung, but the wide open targets were so easy to hit that not only Phil Rivers could hit them, but probably so could have Mo Rivers, Doc Rivers, Mickey Rivers and Joan Rivers (daughter Melissa couldn't, as she throws like a girl)! As good as Ray Lewis has played all season, Antonio Gates made him look old, slow and silly on his second TD reception of the game. At the same time, expecting any linebacker in the league to shadow the speedy Gates alone will be always be a mismatch.
What ticked me off about this team yesterday was a microcasm in miniature, as it has defined the problem with this team all season. Late in the third quarter, Kyle Boller threw a 13 yard swing pass to rookie fullback Le'Ron McClain, to bring the Ravens only slightly closer at 29-14. McClain dances and prances in the end zone as if he just scored the winning touchdown. Your team is down by two touchdown and is getting blitz at will and you, a worthless seldom used blocking back, are self indulging in a gratuitous "look-at-me" dance!? This was a prime example of how this "team" (I have to use the quotes, as I really don't mean 'team') of players is in reality a "group" of individuals more focused on individual performance than team success.
Mind you, I am still a huge fan of Ray Lewis and his style of play. He runs full speed sideline to sideline, never quittting, no matter how poorly the offense (or defense) is playing. Yes, he gloats, gestures and dances after every tackle, but remember, at least he is always making the plays. Even at age 32 and after 12 years in the league, I can't name another middle linebacker in the NFL that I'd rather have leading my defense. Unfortunately, there are so many other players that I'd rather have than the ones currently alongside of him on this team.
Later this week, I will regurgitate the offensive and defensive issues that reared their ugly heads in yesterday's loss. Luckily, we will soon be able to put this game behind us and look forward to two nationally televised games in a row against some teams from New England and Indianapolis!