BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens’ startling value into the playoffs used to be spurred by something per chance a long way more aesthetic: an intensive, high-tail-first form of offense led by the rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Baltimore’s unconventional form of assault within the midst of a dart-chuffed N.F.L. era rescued the Ravens, who won six of their closing seven popular-season video games. And basically the most spectacular victory in that stretch used to be a 12-point romp over the Chargers in Los Angeles in Week 16.
In the head, nonetheless, the defeat of the Chargers used to be the Ravens’ undoing of their rematch right here Sunday in an A.F.C. wild-card playoff game.
In the week leading up to Sunday’s contest, the Chargers dissected the videotape of the Ravens’ Dec. 22 triumph in Los Angeles till every play and, more crucial, the alignments sooner than every play were committed to reminiscence. The Chargers’ defensive coaches schooled the gamers on every Ravens tendency and tried a plucky lineup that included seven defensive backs as an alternative of the identical outdated four or 5.
The ogle and the technique labored. Till a gradual rally within the closing minutes, Baltimore’s unique-glimpse offense had staunch 3 parts and three first downs. Jackson used to be challenged and confounded true into a dreadful performance as Los Angeles built a commanding lead and held on to upset the Ravens, 23-17.
“We had greater reads on their formations, and we seen issues coming,” Chargers defensive discontinue Joey Bosa mentioned within the a hit locker room. “It unquestionably used to be more or much less a blessing to include played them and viewed them staunch a number of weeks within the past.”
The Chargers’ defensive skill compelled Jackson into three fumbles — one among which he lost — and an interception. He used to be sacked seven times.
“You would possibly per chance well ogle we were annoying them,” Los Angeles cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. mentioned. “They were at a loss for phrases. What had been working for them used to be not working.”
Or, as Chargers Coach Anthony Lynn mentioned when requested if the Ravens had regarded flustered: “Whenever you happen to’re worn to working the ball for 300 yards and you glean easiest 80, yeah, you glean flustered.”
Los Angeles, which has won its closing seven facet freeway video games, will plug to Unique England to face the Patriots in a divisional-spherical game Sunday at 1 p.m.
For the Chargers, the rare alignment of seven defensive backs, which replaced chubby linebackers with smaller, rapidly defenders, used to be a possibility. Nonetheless it completely used to be supposed to thwart Jackson’s correct speeding skills.
“Lamar is so rapidly, we wished our fastest guys defending him, even though it intended smaller guys,” Lynn mentioned. “We didn’t know if it would possibly per chance per chance well well work, but we wished to include a glimpse at it.
“We were unquestionably ready to dart onto a undeniable defensive grouping if it didn’t work. Nonetheless it completely did.”
Indeed, it used to be efficient abruptly and space the tone for the game. On the major play from scrimmage, Jackson saved the soccer and tried to plug around righteous discontinue. He used to be tackled for a 1-yard loss by security Derwin James.
Recalling the play, Lynn smiled broadly.
“The first time we played them, we played their game,” he mentioned. “This present day, we played our game.”
For the Ravens, the loss introduced a unexpected discontinue to a season marked by drastic commerce. The longtime Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco used to be overtaken by Jackson, who stays the franchise’s top quarterback challenging forward. John Harbaugh, whose job as Baltimore’s head coach had gave the impression in jeopardy till the gradual surge by the Ravens, soundless couldn’t live.
Flacco did not disclose on his future Sunday, though he insisted that he did not think he have to include replaced Jackson because the Ravens fell within the aid of Los Angeles by 17 parts. Harbaugh also declined to discuss about his include future intimately.
“No person can verbalize what the next day is going to raise,” Harbaugh mentioned. “We’ll ogle. I in point of fact include every expectation to be right here as prolonged as they need me right here.”
The victory used to be also a refined but authoritative accomplishment by the weak Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who used to be exhibiting in his Tenth postseason game. Rivers, who accomplished 22 of 32 passes, coolly and fastidiously led the Los Angeles offense on six scoring drives in opposition to the N.F.L.’s top-ranked protection.
Rivers did not throw an interception and used to be sacked staunch once. And while the Chargers lost one fumble, they were in every other case even handed with the soccer and exhibited the more or much less ball-aid watch over offense that had been Baltimore’s bread and butter in its value to the playoffs.
Advancing cautiously for a lot of the game, Los Angeles kicked four field desires to include a 12-Zero halftime lead. In the third quarter, a Chargers turnover and a blocked punt by the Ravens gave Baltimore a like a flash surge of momentum. Nonetheless the Ravens would possibly per chance well turn the miscues into easiest 3 parts when a fumble restoration by C. J. Mosley resulted in a 33-yard Justin Tucker field unbiased. After the Ravens’ Buck Allen in part blocked a punt and gave Baltimore valid field attach, the possession led easiest to a 50-yard field-unbiased strive that Tucker overlooked.
On the following Chargers possession, a 28-yard dart from Rivers to Mike Williams, adopted by a 14-yard high-tail by Melvin Gordon, space up a third down from the Ravens’ 1-yard line. Gordon used to be tripped and fell staunch sooner than the unbiased line; the play used to be dominated a touchdown till it used to be overturned by video replay.
On the next fourth-down play, Gordon bulled into the head zone. The Chargers accomplished a 2-point conversion to lengthen their outcome in 20-3.
At this point, followers at M&T Bank Stadium started chanting Flacco’s title. Jackson remained within the game, but his presence elicited a chorus of boos from the crew. That displeasure intensified when Jackson used to be twice sacked on a 3-and-out sequence.
Nonetheless on the next sequence, Jackson aroused from sleep and tossed a 31-yard touchdown dart to Michael Crabtree with 6 minutes 33 seconds closing within the fourth quarter. On the Ravens’ next possession, Jackson connected with Crabtree again, throwing a 7-yard touchdown dart that slash the Chargers’ outcome in 23-17 with 1:fifty 9 left.
The Ravens did glean the soccer for a closing sequence, but their comeback ended when Jackson used to be stripped of the soccer as he used to be making ready to dart. The fumble used to be recovered by the Chargers’ Melvin Ingram, who dominated the Ravens’ offensive line in some unspecified time in the future of Sunday’s game. Ingram had seven tackles and two sacks.
“This used to be and used to be not a conventional game for us,” Rivers mentioned afterward. “Because we’ve had every form of victories — hideous ones, beautiful ones, valid video games offensively and valid video games defensively. That’s staunch us. Nonetheless largely, I include we’re a beautiful valid crew.”