The Baltimore Ravens have played eight games this season, and all of the previous seven were decided by single digits. The Ravens were in all of those games until the end, until a late turnover or a failure to make a defensive stop did them in-except for their lone victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. That night, they were able to get just enough breaks and hold on just enough to eke out a three-point overtime win, punctuated by Justin Tucker’s game clinching field goal. Today’s game ended in a similar fashion, as Tucker again made a game-winning field goal, this time in regulation in a 29-26 win over the San Diego Chargers.
The victory celebration was short-lived, as it turned out that Steve Smith, Sr., the best playmaker on an offense lacking big-play weapons, was lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. Joe Flacco threw for 319 yards with no interceptions, and managed to do it without starting left tackle Eugene Monroe, while starting center Jeremy Zuttah went out injured during the game. The Chargers defense was missing several key players including Manti Te’o and Eric Weddle, and was very thin on the defensive line, which made for a very tough afternoon for them. Yet they almost got out of M&T Bank Stadium with a victory, had it not been for the last second heroics of Tucker.
Philip Rivers was his usual self, even as he lost playmakers on his offense as well. He had another 300-yard game, his fifth in succession this season. Much like the Ravens, the Chargers aren’t playing with the lineup they thought they would be into the season. Injuries have taken their toll, much as they have with Baltimore’s team. Both teams were in need of a win-having lost five games in a row between them. Baltimore gets a much needed bye next week before heading into the second half of the season with a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at home.