After yesterday's thrilling 31-26 victory by the Baltimore Ravens over the San Diego Chargers, so many Ravens fans were lamenting the way that Chargers QB Philip Rivers threw all over the field to his receivers time and time again for huge gains. San Diego basically accepted that they weren't going to run the ball against us so they abandoned the run game and took to the air in a big way, with Rivers throwing for a personal best and probably a Ravens worst 436 yards.
However, don't fall prey to reading way too much into that performance by the Ravens pass defense.
(More on 'Relax Ravens' Fans...' after the 'Jump')
The San Diego Chargers boast a very talented lineup on the offensive side of the ball. Injured running back LaDainian Tomlinson sat this one out but I doubt the outcome would have been any different if he had played, as his replacement, Darren Sproles had a monster game with 124 receiving yards and 128 return yards, including that 81 yards catch and run past a sleeping Ravens defense early in the first quarter (Ed Reed, what were you doing with that angle on the play!?).
Sproles and Michael Bennett got almost nothing on the ground, as the Ravens rush defense held their opponents' leading rusher to 20 yards for the second straight game, extending their streak of not allowing a 100 yard rusher to 37 straight games. However, give San Diego credit for realizing this at an early point of the game and going to those long passes which they completed with success. At the same time, we Ravens fans want to thank Chargers coach Norv Turner for momentarily forgetting about their poor success running the ball and placing the entire game's outcome on a Sproles run up the middle that All-World Ray Lewis blew up in the backfield for the game deciding play.
Now to put most of the Ravens fans at ease for the remainder of the season, here's why you can rest easier. The Chargers group of receivers are the most unique bunch in the NFL, boasting four guys 6'4" in height or taller. Between the 6'4" TE Antonio Gates, who is way too big for a safety to cover and way too fast for a linebacker, and 6'5" Vincent Jackson and Malcolm Floyd, the Ravens were sorely outmatched in the size and muscle departments. How many times did it seem like we had their receivers covered, only to see them go up and come down with the ball? It was amazing that they didn't attempt a fade pass on the last few plays of the game ending drive into our Red Zone!
There is no other team in the league with that set of receivers, built like the Chargers guys. The combination of size and speed make them an extremely difficult matchup, one the Ravens will not see the rest of the season. Of course, if we meet again in the post season, hopefully it will be in Baltimore and the home field advantage in January will give us the big advantage. At the same time, San Diego had won 20 of their past 24 home games before yesterday, and we had to go and spoil that nice run!
So don't fret too much, Ravens' fans, as we held the Chargers to 0-5 for scoring TD's in our Red Zone. The 'bend-but-don't-break' mentality worked when our backs were to the wall. Ray Lewis proved why he is the smartest and the best linebacker to ever play the game and shut up the doubters who say he is old and slow. The Baltimore Ravens are 2-0, in first place in the AFC North and head home to M&T Bank Stadium next Sunday to face the hated and now 0-2 Cleveland Browns. Things are looking pretty good from where we stand. So relax, Ravens' fans and enjoy the win!