By Dave Thomas
While a win in game two of the season against defending Super Bowl champion Seattle looks good on San Diego’s resume, a come-from-behind 34-33 victory in Baltimore on Sunday was equally if not better for the Chargers when all was said and done.
Going into the contest, the Chargers and Ravens were tied in the hunt for an AFC wild card spot at 7-4. With the win, San Diego moves to 8-4 and firmly holds down one of two wild card spots with four games remaining in the regular season.
In a bit of a surprise, both teams pulled out the offensive firepower on this last day of November, as the two combined for 67 points, not an outcome many might have expected on a chilly late fall afternoon in Baltimore (7-5).
With New England, Denver, San Francisco (road) and Kansas City (road) left on the schedule, safe to say this was a huge win for Philip Rivers and company.
San Diego Would Not Quit
In a game where Joe Flacco and company had seemingly grabbed control of the contest, the Chargers would simply not give up.
During comments after the game, San Diego head coach Mike McCoy was quick to point out that “The players never gave up. The players stepped up at a critical time of the game. You talk about as a team about how you are going to rally. When the game was on the line, look what they did.”
What the Chargers did was stay within striking distance of the Ravens, who entered the game just percentage points behind Cincinnati in the AFC North race. With the loss and Cincinnati’s squeaker win over lowly Tampa Bay, the Bengals grabbed firm control of their division, while the Chargers remain in the hunt with Denver and Kansas City for both the division race and wild card spots.
As Rivers and anyone else affiliated with the Chargers will tell you, the old cliche of winning one game at a time could never be more true than it is now.
Next up, Tom Brady and the Patriots next Sunday night in a national television contest on NBC.
OFFENSE – (B+) – For a team that could have folded its tent, especially when it was down 33-27 in the waning moments, San Diego would not go away. Rivers (34-for-45, 383 yards, 3 TD’s, one INT), who deserves to be mentioned among the elite QB’s in the league, directed the Bolts down the field for the game-winning drive, featuring some shots to Keenan Allen before Eddie Royal got in the end zone on a one-yard pass play for the winning TD. Allen, who is having a solid second season in the league after a tremendous rookie campaign in 2013, finished a great day with 11 receptions for 121 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Meantime, Malcom Floyd, Antonio Gates, and Royal all went for more than 80 yards receiving. San Diego, which trailed 30-20 with just over six minutes left in the game, finished with 440 total yards of offense, though only 64 of it came on the ground. Yes, the rushing attack is still the one glaring weakness of this offense.
DEFENSE – (B-) – While giving up 33 points might sound like a bad day at the office. San Diego came up with the big plays when it needed them on Baltimore’s final drive to keep the Ravens from rallying. Brandon Flowers and Shareece Wright each tallied six solo tackles, with Flowers tackling wide receiver Kamar Aiken to run out the clock and prevent Baltimore from trying a desperation field goal. Corey Liuget added five solo stops on the day.
For more Chargers news and updates, visit Chargers Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on aExaminer.com.