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Bolts closing in on 1st losing year under Turner


Bolts closing in on 1st losing year under Turner

SAN DIEGO (AP) With a quarter of the season still to play, everything is pointing toward the free-falling San Diego Chargers having their first losing record in Norv Turner's six years as head coach.

All but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for the third straight season, odds are pretty good the Chargers (4-8) will clinch a losing record Sunday. They play at Pittsburgh, where they're 0-14 in regular-season games, and the Steelers (7-5) have beaten both the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. Plus, the Chargers have yet to beat a team with a winning record this season.

The Chargers are coming off home losses to the Ravens and Bengals in which they blew fourth-quarter leads.

They can't run the ball and Philip Rivers had two more crucial turnovers in Sunday's 20-13 loss to the Bengals.

Their offensive line, which couldn't protect Rivers even before a rash of injuries, is certain to have even more upheaval this week.

The Chargers were shut out in the second half on Sunday after taking a 13-10 halftime lead. They didn't score an offensive touchdown for the third time this season as they lost their fourth straight game and for the seventh time in eight games.

Now they have to face the Steelers, who, playing for the third week without Ben Roethlisberger, won 23-20 at AFC North-leading Baltimore on Sunday behind 37-year-old Charlie Batch. The Steelers are tied with the Bengals for the second AFC wild-card berth. They're two games behind the Ravens.

The Steelers have won the last three games against the Chargers, including a 38-28 playoff victory following the 2008 season.

The Chargers' only wins in Pittsburgh have been in the playoffs, a wild-card win after the 1982 season and their AFC championship game upset after the 1994 season that propelled them to their only Super Bowl.

Three-quarters of the way into the season, the Chargers still can't play a complete game. And they can't explain why they can't.

The Bengals went ahead on Andy Dalton's 6-yard scamper up the middle with 4:11 left Sunday, and San Diego's final two drives ended with turnovers by Rivers. The week before, they let Ray Rice convert on a fourth-and-29 dump-off pass and the Ravens won in overtime.

``It's not so much the fourth quarter,'' the embattled Turner said Monday. ``It stands out because it is the fourth quarter, but we have not been able to move the ball consistently in any quarter. And when we can make some plays we're able to move the ball. Sometimes you're able to scheme them, sometimes guys make plays. We've had too many negative plays that keep us from being a consistent team. It's not one guy.''

Safety Corey Lynch, who had an interception against the Bengals, was asked why the Chargers have trouble finishing.

``Every week I kind of ask myself that same question and there's just no words. I don't have an answer for that. It's been disappointing for all players, who I feel like when I'm on the sideline watching the game, everyone's giving 100 percent. I feel like when I'm in the game, playing the game, all my teammates are giving 100 percent. So, on Monday, I don't have an answer.''

Turner has had some revealing comments recently that seem to sum up the state of the Bolts' roster.

A week ago, Turner acknowledged the Chargers were outmanned by the Ravens in a number of areas.

After the loss to the Bengals, he said: ``I think there are a lot of guys that are playing about as good as they can play right now.''

On Monday, he said: ``I think we've played two really good football teams and I think we stood there toe-to-toe with them, and we've just come up short.''

The Steelers' defense provides a contrast to San Diego's lack of consistency.

Although Steelers stars Troy Polamalu and James Harrison have missed time this season, the Steelers lead the NFL in overall defense.

``I tell you one thing, when we put their depth chart up on the wall, we played them in 2008, and I think nine of the same guys are starting,'' Turner said. ``So you have great consistency in terms of through the years, they all know what each other's doing. The guys they have backing those guys up are young players that I think are talented guys that have filled in when they need to fill in for a guy. When you're filling in for one guy, I think we all know you have to do that through a season, that you're not going to have all 11 starters for every game. But they have a great scheme, they're certainly well-coached, they know what each other's doing, they know what each other's responsibility is and they execute it at a real high level.''

The Chargers will face that defense with an offensive line that could be without right tackle Jeromey Clary, left tackle Mike Harris and left guard Tyronne Green due to injuries.

``If we're in there with three new starting offensive linemen, guys that I haven't met yet, and we're playing the Steelers in Pittsburgh, it will be a challenge,'' Turner said.


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Joe Flacco's status remains uncertain as Ravens head into Week 12


Joe Flacco's status remains uncertain as Ravens head into Week 12

Lamar Jackson's first NFL start has taken over the headlines and airwaves since his historic performance Sunday for the Baltimore Ravens. But what about that guy Joe Flacco?

Sunday marked the first time Flacco wasn't the team's starting quarterback in 41 games as he nursed a hip injury sustained in their Week 9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Ravens were hush all week on Flacco's status against the Cincinnati Bengals, but head coach John Harbaugh told reporters post-victory they knew the Super Bowl XLVII MVP would be unable to start. 

"Finally, it was when he had a doctor’s appointment earlier in the week in New York," Harbaugh said. "One of the final … We had an indication of it the week before – it was going to be tough. But the final word … I can’t remember what day it was. It was Monday or Tuesday.” 

In his 11 years with the Ravens, the only extended time Flacco has missed was six games back in 2015 after tearing his ACL. Prior to Week 11, Flacco was on the injury report only eight times and had missed only three practices during the regular season. 

Flacco sustained the injury on the team's opening drive against the Steelers three weeks ago, but played the full 60 minutes completing 23 of 37 passes for 206 yards. What we've learned about the injury over the last week and a half is that it doesn't appear the quarterback will need surgery, but beyond that, there is little information on a return date. 

"Yes, it will be tough for him this week coming up,” Harbaugh added postgame. 

The timing of this injury is obviously not ideal given that Flacco is playing on the last year of his contract and the quarterback they drafted to replace him had about as good of a start as you can draw up.

"I'm not getting into any of that, Harbaugh said Monday on if Flacco would would have a chance to reclaim his job.

With six games to play and currently in a five-way tie for the last AFC wild card spot, a lot, and we mean a lot, can happen.

And just 24 hours after saying it would be tough for Flacco to play this upcoming week, Harbaugh upgraded Flacco's status.

“He has a chance. It’s just a matter of how fast the healing takes place in there," Harbaugh said during his Monday press conference. "It’s not a surgical thing; it’s just a calming-down type of a thing with the hip, and I’m not a doctor. They have that commercial with the TV doctors. I’m not even a TV doctor, so we’ll see.”


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Peter King awards Lamar Jackson with weekly honor for NFL start vs. Bengals

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Peter King awards Lamar Jackson with weekly honor for NFL start vs. Bengals

The Baltimore Ravens couldn't have drawn up a better NFL start for rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson. 

With the weight of keeping his team in playoff contention against a division rival that crushed those hopes less than a year ago firmly on his shoulders, Jackson stepped onto the field at M&T Bank Stadium and not only got the win, but set records along the way.

The 21-year-old's performance caught the attention of local and national pundits, earning him one of two Offensive Players of the Week honors in Peter Kings' Football Morning in America.

In the 24-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the first-round draft pick was 13-of-19 for 150 yards in the air while rushing for 117 yards on 27 attempts.

Those 117 rushing yards were the second-most by a rookie quarterback since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger with 46 of them on the Ravens' opening drive alone. Coincidentally, Robert Griffin III holds the record for most rushing yards by a rookie QB with 138 back in October of 2012 with the Redskins.

His speed was an issue all afternoon for the Bengals as well. Jackson is so fast that according to NFL Next Gen Stats, Jackson reached 15+ mph on 14 rushing attempts. No other player has hit 15+ mph on more than nine rushing attempts this season. 

"The way he bounced back and his composure," safety Eric Weddle told reporters after the game on what impressed him about Jackson's performance.

"He threw that pick [to start the second half], and what did he do next drive? He went down and scored. And it was like nothing happened and you can't teach that. It's something that you see in him, he's very even-keeled, cool calm and collected...that's what impressed me. His physical ability and the way he plays; we see it everyday so I expect him to play like that. But just to overcome some adversity early on in his first start and to come back and lead a huge drive and make some big plays...I just think his composure."

Now the Heisman Trophy winner will have to maintain that same composure when the Oakland Raiders come to town in what will likely be his second NFL start.