Baltimore Sun reporters, columnists and editors share their immediate thoughts on the Ravens' game against the San Diego Chargers in Week 13 at M&T Bank Stadium.
Jeff Zrebiec, reporter: There's no way to sugarcoat this one. Unless the Ravens beat the Miami Dolphins next Sunday and then win out, this loss could very well cost them a playoff berth. By now, it should be pretty obvious: If they can't get to a upper-echelon quarterback and the opposition is not gift-wrapping turnovers, the Ravens can't stop anyone. The Chargers marched up and down the field with no resistance when one fourth-quarter stop would have been enough to give them a win.
Aaron Wilson, reporter: Because of a defense rendered helpless against Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and an unproductive red-zone offense, the Ravens were unable to pull out a crucial win. The Ravens' defense was exposed repeatedly by Rivers. The secondary was absolutely horrendous, allowing Rivers to do whatever he wanted throughout the game. What was particularly costly for the Ravens was their offense going 3-for-7 in the red zone. Steve Smith completely disappeared, catching just one pass for 2 yards on four targets.
Jon Meoli, reporter: The worst of the Ravens' mistakes manifest itself Sunday in a game they should have won. The secondary was picked apart yet again. Joe Flacco was inconsistent and left plays on the table. The only constants over the last few games have been Justin Forsett getting 100 yards and Torrey Smith taking over as the top receiving threat. The pass rush was neutralized by something as simple as a varied snap count, and the defense had no answers. Losing Marlon Brown and Torrey Smith could be worse than the actual loss, though.
Peter Schmuck, columnist: The Ravens paid the price for their relative ineffectiveness in the red zone, especially on the possession before their final field goal. Of course, the fact that the secondary was overmatched by Philip Rivers and his receiving corps didn't help either. Very bad loss that puts the Bengals very much in the driver's seat in the AFC North and makes the wild-card hunt more problematic.
Childs Walker, reporter: The Ravens cannot stop a good quarterback, and that means they'll always be vulnerable, no matter how well they play in other facets. They moved the ball all day against San Diego but failed to capitalize on too many scoring chances. And when Phillip Rivers got the ball with more than two minutes left and a mere six-point deficit, no Ravens fan could've felt good.
Ron Fritz, sports editor: This one will hurt the rest of the season, especially when the Ravens fail to make the playoffs. They couldn't get to quarterback Philip Rivers, and he just picked them apart. Did you really think the Ravens were going to stop the Chargers with 2:22 left after Justin Tucker's field goal? That field goal and the one in the first quarter after they intercepted Rivers at the 19-yard line weren't enough to get it done. They needed touchdowns.