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After loss, Chargers don't know where to turn next

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After loss, Chargers don't know where to turn next

BALTIMORE—Philip Rivers watched Justin Tucker’s game-winning field goal, walked over to his Ravens counterpart, and commiserated. 

Rivers’ San Diego Chargers and Joe Flacco’s Ravens are both 2-6, and neither can believe it.

“It’s been a crazy year for both teams, hasn’t it?” Rivers told Flacco.

As close as the Ravens’ games have all been, the Chargers’ games have been nearly as close.

Baltimore hasn’t had a game decided by more than eight points. Seven of San Diego’s games have been that close.

“We lost on the last play of the game—three games. That’s probably what the Ravens have said,” Rivers said.

“It’s crazy how they’ve lost. That’s not a 2-7 team, whatever it is, 2-6 team. That’s what their record is. We know they’re not that. They’re a playoff team year-in and year-out.”

Rivers is used to being on a contender. They’ve had just one losing season in his 12-year career. A second one looks increasingly likely now.

“I’m not one to say you’d rather get beat 35-0 every week than have close games because I can’t imagine how that would feel,” Rivers said.

“I think it does make it tougher when it’s like this because you know you could have, and you know you’re good enough, but you didn’t do it.”

In Mike McCoy’s first two seasons as head coach, the Chargers went 9-7, and two years ago went to the playoffs.

It doesn’t look like that’s happening this year, perhaps the team’s final year in San Diego before a move to Los Angeles.

On Sunday, McCoy counted a dozen players lost during the game to injuries, something he’s never seen before.

“You can highlight that one. Never,” McCoy said.

The Chargers lost key offensive linemen, but gave up just one sack.

Rivers played very well, completing 17 of his first 18 passes, and finishing 28 for 37 for 301 yards. Once when he was knocked down on a safety blitz, Rivers completed his longest throw of the game, a 70-yarder to Malcom Floyd that gave San Diego a 23-16 lead late in the third quarter.

It looked like the Chargers were rolling and Rivers, who had a busy week, doesn’t know where to turn.

“It’s been tough to keep losing this way. For once I don’t have a lot to say. I don’t have a whole lot of answers,” Rivers said.

“I don’t there’s a philosophical or huge problem, but whatever the problem is, we haven’t been able to answer it.”

The loss aside, it was a nice week for Rivers whose wife gave birth to the couple’s eighth child, their sixth daughter. The quarterback took time on Saturday night to visit an 11-year-old Baltimore child with cancer, who happens to be a San Diego fan, in the hospital. He presented the boy with a signed football.

On Sunday, Rivers trash talked with Steve Smith, Sr. before his injury, and was barking at the Ravens’ bench after the 70-yard score. He thought the Chargers were going to win.

“Goodness gracious. We didn’t turn the ball over. Defense came up with some big stops when they needed it,” Rivers said.

But, they still lost.

The game looked as if it might be heading to overtime when on 3rd-and-19 on the San Diego 43, Flacco threw an incompletion to Kamar Aiken with 1:11 to play, but Steve Williams was flagged for pass interference, setting up Tucker’s winning field goal.

“I played it as solid as I could. I thought I played it pretty good. I thought it was incomplete,” Williams said. “They called it, so I can’t go back.”

The cornerback was convinced there shouldn’t have been a call.

“I got my hands on him early, ran, looked inside, outside again. The ball was over the top. He fell. I guess they thought I pushed him. I didn’t push him,” Williams said.

Rivers is now 3-4 against the Ravens. This was the first time he played against them without Terrell Suggs. Elvis Dumervil presented problems, but it wasn’t the same without Suggs.

“You can’t just focus on one guy if you have that other Suggs-type player that’s a perennial Pro Bowler. It’s still a good Ravens defense. I think they’re built on the same principles. It’s still a good group,” Rivers said.

Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers still liked what he saw from Flacco.

“He bought time, made some great throws out of the pocket. Flacco’s a cool guy though. You’re never going to see him rattled. I don’t pay attention to what kind of season he has because I know what kind of player he is. He made some clutch throws today, I can tell you that,” Flowers said.

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Baltimore Ravens Week 6 awards after shutout win over Titans

Baltimore Ravens Week 6 awards after shutout win over Titans

The Baltimore Ravens went into the Tennessee Titans' home and completely robbed them in a 21-0 shutout win.

Here are the players and plays that stood out from the afternoon.

PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME: Ravens Defense

The Ravens defense had a historic afternoon recording a franchise-record 11 sacks. Yup, you read that right. 11 sacks.

Za'Darius Smith led the way with three, followed by Patrick Onwuasor with two and Matthew Judon, Terrell Suggs, Tony Jefferson, Kenny Young, Anthony Levine Sr. and Chris Wormley with one apiece. The 11 sacks tied for the second most by a team in league history and the most in a game since 2012.  It was so historic, the Ravens changed their Twitter name to included 11 S's. 

But that wasn't the only impressive part of the Ravens' afternoon. Marcus Mariota was limited to 10 completions and the defense allowed just 51 passing yards  —  the fewest in franchise history  — and 55 rushing yards. The Titans finished the afternoon 1-for-10 on third down as well.

With the shutout, the Ravens defense cemented its place as one of the NFL's most elite units in 2018. A win that must have been extra sweet after a 12-9 overtime loss to the Browns the week prior and with former defensive coordinator Dean Pees staring back from the opposite sideline. The Ravens remain the only NFL team to not allow a second-half touchdown this season. 

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE GAME: Michael Crabtree

After dropping what would have been the game-winning touchdown Week 5 against the Browns, Michael Crabtree said his priority this week was to get back into the lab and correct his mistakes. Out the gate, the veteran receiver stayed true to his word finishing the Ravens' first drive catching three passes for 52 yards and one touchdown. Earlier in the week, Joe Flacco had faith his receiver would get over the hump of six drops in five games and was willing to stand by him until it happened.

"Besides just trying to give him the confidence that, you know, I'm still going his way when he calls for it and I still believe that it's going to be the difference...it's something that he'll definitely get over," Flacco said.

The patience worked as Crabtree finished the day with six receptions for 93 yards and one touchdown leading all Ravens receivers.

But more importantly, the relationship between Crabtree and Flacco continues to grow.

"That’s trust. That’s what you need in football, you know," Crabtree said postgame. "Quarterback, receiver relationship. It’s only going to get better. It’s all about how much time you put in, how much work you put in. I’m new; this is my first year here so I got to do what I got to do."

STAT OF THE GAME: Flacco makes his way into the history books

With 25 completions Sunday against the Titans, Flacco became the third different quarterback in NFL history to complete 25 or more passes in nine consecutive games, per the NFL's communication department. Drew Brees sits atop the list with 11 and 10 consecutive games followed by Peyton Manning with nine. Flacco finished the 21-0 win 25-for-37 with 238 yards, one touchdown and one interception. 

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Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks against former defensive coordinator

Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks against former defensive coordinator

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Baltimore Ravens swarmed around their new defensive coordinator, Don "Wink" Martindale, celebrating after a game that will go down in the record books.

Getting 11 sacks along with a shutout against the man Martindale replaced makes this mark even sweeter.

Za'Darius Smith had a career-high three sacks as the Ravens piled up the franchise-record Sunday in routing the Tennessee Titans 21-0 in the rain, just missing the NFL record shared by five teams by one.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh called it an "historic defensive performance."

The Ravens (4-2) smothered Tennessee, allowing just 106 yards of offense while they turned Marcus Mariota's day into the worst of his NFL career. Eight different Ravens sacked Mariota, and four got their first sack this season at his expense. The Titans never got closer to the end zone than the Ravens 37, each time pushed back with yet another sack.

"We want to be something special out there," Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon said. "For Wink, it's great to go against his predecessor, and he stepped up and we came through and pitched a shutout. You don't ever talk about unicorns while you're doing it, but we got it done. We got it done for him, and we celebrated after."

Martindale was promoted to defensive coordinator when Dean Pees retired after last season. His retirement lasted less than a month with first-year coach Mike Vrabel luring Pees to join him as the Titans' defensive coordinator.

Asked about Pees, Smith only said that the coordinator told him at his pro day at Kentucky that the linebacker would be a Raven.

"Love him to death, but hey, we won tonight, so we're going to leave it at that," Smith said with a smile.

The Titans (3-3) had not been shut out at home since the franchise relocated to Tennessee.

"That's the headline: The `Tennessee Titans didn't do nearly enough on all levels to win the football game,'" Vrabel said. "Or even make it competitive."

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