Instant analysis: Ravens lose grasp of AFC North in 34-14 loss to Chargers

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Matt Vensel, Sports Blitz:

No need to nitpick after this one. It was a game of missed plays for the Ravens, who picked a bad time to embarrass themselves on national TV. Time for them to win out and cross their fingers.


Kevin Van Valkenburg, reporter:

Frankly, I kind of feel like more people should have seen this coming. I picked San Diego to win this game during the week because I'm still not convinced the Ravens know how to win on the road, and I didn't see anything Sunday that even gave me pause. Philip Rivers is exactly the kind of quarterback who can give the Ravens fits. He throws an accurate deep ball, he gets the ball out quickly, and if you don't hit him, he'll tear you up. The Ravens will hit you, and they'll intimidate you, but they don't cover well in space. Their linebackers frequently get lost, their corners bite on double moves, and Ed Reed is guessing wrong more than he used to. If the Ravens don't get pressure, they're in trouble. This team is still a good team, but it remains a flawed team. Blame for this falls primarily on the defense, but the gap between Rivers and Joe Flacco, even in the midst of Rivers' worst season, should be obvious by now, even in the eyes of the biggest Ravens homer.


Peter Schmuck, columnist:

The Ravens got smoked faster than a counterfeit Cohiba, which is a tribute to the gameplan of Norv Turner and the performance of Philip Rivers. Perhaps it would have been closer if Terrell Suggs hadn't extended an early Chargers drive with a flagrant head slap and Billy Cundiff hadn't missed a chip-shot field goal on the Ravens first possession, but why quibble after a game in which the vaunted Ravens defense simply did not show up?

Ron Fritz, head of sports:

This trip started with a delayed flight and only got worse for the Ravens. They didn’t show up, and the Chargers rubbed their noses in it. If the Patriots and Steelers win out, the Steelers would be the No. 1 seed in the AFC, a bitter pill for the Ravens to swallow after sweeping Pittsburgh this season.

Chris Korman, Ravens editor:

For as long as there's been away teams, we've tried to dissect why they often seem so wholly different when playing on a different field. But with the Ravens, it seems sort of simple: they just aren't comfortable. Quarterback Joe Flacco misses a few throws. The defense misses a few tackles. The Ravens get behind, and Ray Rice becomes less of a factor. Terrell Suggs sees too many blockers and gets not nearly enough help. Not that the Ravens haven't been assertive at all on the road this year. They went into Pittsburgh -- as difficult a place to play as any, especially for the Ravens in recent years -- and won late. But they've shown no ability to recover if they take an early punch, and that's now a huge concern heading into the playoffs.