Ray Lewis has made plenty of big plays in his career and he added another to his highlight reel when the team needed it most.
With San Diego driving for the winning touchdown on a 4th and 2 he slid past the center and met Darren Sproles head on to cause a 5 yard loss and seal the victory to push Baltimore to 2-0.
The play spoiled a huge game for Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers who threw for a personal best 436 yards on 25 of 45 passing with two touchdowns.
Both teams seemed to have little trouble moving the ball up and down the field on a steamy afternoon at Qualcom Stadium.
For the Ravens they used a ground attack led by Willis McGahee who rushed for 75 yards on 15 attempts and two touchdowns. For the day, Baltimore gained 130 with the rush. For the Chargers, Rivers continually used the height of his receiving corps to his advantage as he passed almost at will.
But the difference in this game was in the red zone. An area that Baltimore has struggled in for years provided huge dividends today as they scored three touchdowns in the first half while San Diego had to settle for field goals.
Baltimore (2-0) heads back home to take on division rival Cleveland (0-2) next week.
POINTS TO PONDER
-What happened to the defense? They played bend don’t break all day long and almost paid for it if not for Lewis’ game saving tackle. Phillip Rivers is a very good quarterback and he was smart enough to put a lot of his passes where his taller receivers could get them. The whole corps had obvious mismatches with the Baltimore secondary all game long. The Ravens should have been able to pressure Rivers more with two starters out on the offensive line but they only registered two sacks but the few times they did get to him they did force two interceptions. Please note this pass defense performance is only second worst all-time. The leader? 473 yards against the New York Jets in 2000. So maybe it’s a good omen????
-What was Norv Turner thinking? Two plays in particular will be scrutinized by Charger fans all week. In the fading moments of the first half he elected to kick the field goal on third down instead of taking one more shot at the endzone with ten seconds left. And in the final drive, a screen pass was called on third and 2 setting up a Sproles run up the middle to end the game. They did have one time out left so a run isn’t the worst call but up the gut where you had zero success all day I’m sure doesn’t sit well with the San Diego faithful. Hindsight is a great thing isn’t it?
-Is Willis McGahee motivated? This guy looks nothing like the player who pouted behind his visor last season. He has been a decisive runner and is even catching balls out of the backfield. He has 4 touchdowns in the first two games and he has made a fantastic one-two punch with Ray Rice while Le’Ron McClain handles the short yardage duties. I guess playing for a contract helps too though.
-What about the passing game? Flacco seemed to throw to his checkdowns a lot early in the game. Kelley Washington was a pleasant surprise nabbing 4 catches for 58 yards and a score. The touchdown was on a beautifully executed fake by Flacco. Derrick Mason was quiet (3 for 31), while Mark Clayton disappeared. Clayton’s late drop could have kept the chains moving as the offense tried to run out the clock in the fourth. But it simply went through his hands.
-Who was the offensive player of the game? Joe Flacco was an efficient 17 for 26 for 190 and two touchdowns. He did have one interception as a result of Shawne Merriman pressure but other wise he was cool. But I ‘ll go with Willis McGahee and Ray Rice who gained 82 combined yards because the rushing attack really helped the offense win this game.
-Who was the defensive player of the game? I’d have to go with Ray Lewis who had 12 tackles, forced a fumble and had the big stop at the end. The secondary was picked on all day and Ed Reed wasn’t much of a factor at all. Terrell Suggs did end up with 1.5 sacks for the contest but overall the team needs to get more pressure on the quarterback.