Both the Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers won their opening games in week one of the NFL's 2009 regular season. While they were both considered big favorites going into the games, both teams also needed crucial drives late in the game to secure the victories. However, that is where the similarities end, as the "types" of victories were significantly different when you take a look at the stats.
(More on the "Huge Difference Between Ravens & Chargers Wins" after the "Jump")The San Diego Chargers secured their come from behind win over the Oakland Raiders via an 89 yard drive that ended with a five yard run for the game winning TD by RB Darren Sproles, who took over for an injured LaDanian Tomlinson. Until that TD was scored with 18 seconds remaining in the game, the Chargers were in the position of losing all game long. The Chargers were winning in the second half but Oakland quickly regained the lead on a long TD pass to put San Diego in the position of having to pull it out at the end.
The Chargers offense had a total of 317 yards, compared to the Baltimore Ravens franchise best 501 yards of total offense. Chargers QB Phil Rivers threw for 252 yards, completing 24 of 36 passes for one TD and one INT. Baltimore's Joe Flacco was even better, with 26 of 43 for his first career 300 yard passing game (307 yards), with three TD's and one INT. The running game comparison significantly favored the Ravens, who rushed as a team for 198 yards, led by Ray Rice's 108 yards on 19 attempts. The Chargers rushing total was 77 yards, with LT getting 55 and a TD before being injured and Sproles finishing with 23 yards and the late TD.
While these stats, regardless of the Ravens better offensive numbers, are relatively similar and are certainly each good enough to win games on a regular basis, the huge difference the title of this story is talking about is on the defensive side of the ball.
The Chargers gave up a total of 366 yards of offensive production to the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs were considered to be two of the weaker teams in the league but in the NFL, nobody rolls over and gives away a win without fighting to the end, which both teams did. However, looking at the stats, the Raiders pushed the Chargers all over the field and actually dominated that game before losing at the end. Conversely, the Ravens only allowed the Chiefs a total of 188 yards, almost half of what the Chargers defense gave up. While the Chiefs put 24 points on the board, only ten of them could be directly attributed to the Kansas City offense's ability to move the ball into scoring position. All of the Raiders points came on drives of over 50 yards, resulting in two TD's and two FG's. Oakland's 366 total yards were split into 148 yards running the ball and 218 yards passing, proving success both on the ground and in the air. The Ravens stingy run defense surrendered a total of 29 yards to the Chiefs, with only 20 yards on 11 attempts by Larry Johnson.
While this comparison does not automatically make the Baltimore Ravens the favorite going into this weekend's matchup in San Diego (Chargers are listed as a 3 point favorite), it should make the Charger faithful nervous that if they gave up that many yards and barely beat a supposedly weak Raiders team, then what might happen when they host a stronger team like Baltimore's? That is a huge difference between the Ravens' team that beat the Chiefs in comparison to the Chargers' one that beat the Raiders.