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Ray Lewis might have wished that he had waited another week before he returned from his toe injury, as the Baltimore Ravens (10-4) fell to a comprehensive 34-14 defeat to the San Diego Chargers (7-7).
The Ravens marched down the field confidently on their opening possession and looked certain to take the lead in the game. However, kicker Billy Cundiff, who is carrying an injury to his left thigh, was unable to convert the simple field goal, and gifted possession back to the Chargers. San Diego proved to be more clinical on their opening drive, with Mike Tolbert going over from the 1-yard line to end the Ravens streak of not allowing any kind of score on their oppositions opening drive.
Baltimore did manage to level the scores early in second quarter, quarterback Joe Flacco finding Ed Dickson with the 15-yard touchdown pass, and Cundiff was on target with the extra point. San Diego were exposing a Ravens secondary which, without Ladarius Webb on most plays, was allowing big yards to Phillip Rivers in the passing game, and retook their lead through a field goal initially, and then extended it with a rushing touchdown from Ryan Matthews as the game went into halftime.
The Chargers heaped even more misery onto the misfiring Ravens defense early in the third quarter, with Rivers finding Malcolm Floyd for a 28-yard touchdown, and moving San Diego into a 17-point lead. A Takeo Spikes interception then led to another rushing touchdown for Matthews, as they took the game beyond Baltimore, consigning the Ravens to their fourth loss of the season.
Rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith did grab a consolation touchdown for the Ravens in the fourth quarter, with a 36-yard touchdown, but it was too little too late for Baltimore who looked uncharacteristically poor in defense.
The Chargers will be thrilled with Rivers, who put in a masterful performance, throwing for 270 yards on just 17 completions, and although he only managed one touchdown, his accurate passing set up the rushing touchdowns of Matthews and Tolbert.
Baltimore Head Coach John Harbaugh will now be hoping that his brother Jim can do the Ravens a favor and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, which would keep Baltimore at the top of the AFC North.
Image Courtesy of Keith Allison