In perhaps the most telling indication of Philip Rivers' comfortable day at the office, the San Diego Chargers quarterback's powder-blue jersey and white pants looked as clean as they had when he emerged from the locker room at Snapdragon Stadium for pre-game warm-ups.
That's because the Ravens failed to generate much of a pass rush against the Chargers, and Rivers took advantage in the team's 34-14 rout.
Rivers completed 17-of-23 passes for 270 yards and one touchdown as he enjoyed a wide pocket for much of the evening.
The Ravens, who entered the contest leading the NFL in sacks with 45, failed to sack Rivers. It was only the second time all season that the defense finished a game without recording a sack.
Prior to Sunday night's contest, the Ravens were keenly aware of the importance of pressuring Rivers so that he would not have much time to read the coverages and find open receivers.
"You don't want a quarterback to be in a seven-on-seven match, especially this one, with your defensive backs," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "Otherwise, it's going to be raining touchdowns, and it doesn't feel too good. That's just with any quarterback. But I like this guy."
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata went a little further in his assessment.
"I think he is a quarterback that hates to get hit and loves to win," Ngata said. "I think if we can get in front of his face and hit him often, I think it gets him a little frustrated. He doesn't really like getting hit. I think you can see that he really starts to get on his linemen and into the refs and talking about some hits. Once we can do that to him, get him frustrated, it's going to be a better game for us."
Coach John Harbaugh offered a bit of foreshadowing when talking about attacking Rivers.
"We're going to try to get after every quarterback all the time if we can," he said. "And however they react to it or respond to it is up to them. But he's a great competitor. You can see that. You can see he's one of the great competitors in the National Football League, and in our view, that's probably a big strength of his."
During San Diego's three-game winning spurt, Rivers has thrown seven touchdowns, been sacked twice, and tossed zero interceptions. By comparison, Rivers posted 10 touchdowns, 15 sacks and 10 interceptions during the Chargers' six-game losing skid.
But Rivers was afforded what seemed like unhurried moments despite playing behind a reshuffled offensive line that included a three-game starter at left tackle (former Raven Jared Gaither) and a pair of guards (Tyronne Green and Louis Vasquez) making their third consecutive starts after returning from injury.
San Diego was especially adept at silencing Suggs, who had vaulted himself into the conversation for the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award with 13 sacks, six forced fumbles and two interceptions this season.
Suggs was flagged for slapping the helmet of tight end Randy McMichael, which negated a sack by defensive end Cory Redding in the second quarter. Suggs also moved into the neutral zone, incurring an offsides penalty.
But Suggs had little help from his teammates, who seemed to waste any energy generated from the return of inside linebacker and emotional leader Ray Lewis. Perhaps a visit from the hapless Cleveland Browns on Christmas Eve might just be the tonic for what ails the Ravens defense.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun