Ravens defense comes up big when the offense struggles, leads win over Chargers

The Baltimore Ravens didn’t have a great night on offense. That’s a bit concerning against a Los Angeles Chargers defense that has been one of the worst in the league. Even kicker Justin Tucker had a big miss.

The beauty of this Ravens team is they can win anyway. Baltimore’s defense came through with a big performance and lifted the offense on a night that points were hard to come by.

The Baltimore defense played well all night and got the one stop it absolutely needed, forcing a turnover on downs just inside the two-minute warning. It wasn’t pretty for the Ravens offense but they held on to a 20-10 win, sealing it on Zay Flowers‘ second touchdown of the game with 1:36 to go.

The Ravens are 9-3 and quickly closing in on an AFC North championship, considering the rest of the division has massive quarterback issues. Even if the Ravens great quarterback Lamar Jackson doesn’t do too much, which was the case on Sunday night, they can still win games. That’s a huge difference.

Both offenses struggle

The Sunday night game was not a bad matchup, between one of the NFL’s best teams and another that has the talent to be much better than their record would indicate. It was pretty bland for three quarters.

The Ravens defense controlled most of the game. The Chargers couldn’t get in a rhythm offensively. The Ravens weren’t much better on offense but they at least kept some drives moving with the running game. Jackson hit Flowers for a short touchdown in the second quarter, and that was the only touchdown of the game through three quarters.

The best play of the first three quarters might have come late in the third quarter on a relative of the hook-and-ladder play. On third-and-17, Keenan Allen caught a short pass over the middle and immediately passed it back to Austin Ekeler near the sideline. Ekeler had open space and got the first down.

Other than that, there wasn’t much to get excited about from either team. And even that nice highlight for the Chargers didn’t amount to anything. That drive, which lasted 19 plays, ended when Jadeveon Clowney got a strip-sack of Justin Herbert and the Ravens recovered. Every time the Ravens needed a big play from the defense, that unit generally came through.

Chargers crawl back in it

The Chargers finally got a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Herbert had a long run, then he hit tight end Gerald Everett for a 3-yard touchdown with 8:32 to go. The Chargers trailed by just three points.

Baltimore’s offense hadn’t done much to that point, but they did put together a big drive after the Chargers’ first touchdown. They hit a couple decent passes, had some nice runs and they were quickly in field-goal range. The drive stalled but Tucker came on for a field goal. And then Tucker, arguably the greatest kicker in NFL history, missed. It was his first miss inside of 50 yards all season. That gave the Chargers life.

Herbert had a chance to win the game. He got the Chargers into Ravens territory just before the two-minute warning. The Ravens defense came up big after that, forcing an incompletion on third-and-6 and then got immediate pressure on Justin Herbert on a well-timed blitz that forced him to get rid of the ball to nobody and incomplete. Flowers took an end around after that to the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown and put away the game.

The Ravens offense is very good. The defense is certainly one of the NFL’s best. They have a great coach in John Harbaugh. They haven’t had much playoff success since Jackson took over, but this is the type of team that could change that.

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