Defense barely hangs on

The Ravens' secondary was abused by Philip Rivers today, but Baltimore moved to the top of the AFC North because of big plays by the defense in the red zone. The 31-26 victory showed the worst -- and the best -- of the defense.

When Ray Lewis stuffed the Chargers' Darren Sproles on fourth down with 33 seconds left, the Ravens were able to escape San Diego with a 2-0 record. Pittsburgh lost, 17-14, in Chicago to drop to 1-1.


Despite a career-high 436 passing yards by Rivers, the Chargers managed only four field goals on five trips inside the Ravens' 20. They had first-and-goal at the 2, and first-and-goal at the 1 in the first half and still only got three points each time.

A sack by Haloti Ngata and interceptions by Dawan Landry and reserve linebacker Antwan Barnes were big for the Ravens. But the Chargers also suffered from two critical delay-of-game penalties in the red zone. San Diego played with a patchwork offensive line that was missing the starting center and right guard. That's where the Ravens pressured the most, but it was not enough.


The Ravens got to Rivers only twice; Terrell Suggs had the other sack. And the Chargers never were able to muster a running game. Rivers threw for 255 yards in the first half and 181 in the second.

Much-maligned cornerback Frank Walker replaced starter Fabian Washington, who was hurt, on the final Chargers' series and came up with a big knockdown at the goal line against Legedu Naanee.

Facing fourth-and-2 at the Ravens 15 with 37 seconds left, the Chargers sent Darren Sproles up the middle, but he barely got the ball when Lewis dropped him to win the game.

Joe Flacco threw for 190 yards and two touchdowns, covering 27 yards to Kelley Washington and 9 to Todd Heap. Running back Willis McGahee punched out 79 yards and two touches on 15 carries.

The Ravens are home next week against the Browns.