Chargers head to New England with a three game Losing Streak
November 30, 2023
The playoff hopes for the fading Los Angeles Chargers took another blow on Sunday Night at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, when the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Chargers, 20-10. The loss dropped the Chargers to a record of 4-7 on the season, matching their loss total from the 2022 season when they went 10-7 and made the playoffs. The Chargers are in last place in the AFC West.
The Ravens improved to 9-3 for the season, the best record in the AFC. The Ravens won the turnover battle in the game, 4-0, and that is always difficult to overcome. A fumble by wide receiver Keenan Allen in the second quarter led to three points for the Ravens and a late second quarter fumble by running back Austin Ekeler stalled another potential scoring drive. Chargers head coach Brandon Staley was frustrated with the turnovers.
"That was certainly the difference in the game, and it usually is in the NFL," Staley said after the game. "When you turn the ball over three times and don't get any, your chances of winning aren't very good, especially when you're playing a team like Baltimore, it's going to be really tough. We hung in there about as well as you could, turning it over like that, one of them in the red area. Just didn't play well enough, clean enough, to win tonight."
The Chargers were competitive throughout the game but in the end were unable to make the plays that a good team needs to make to win the game, a pattern that has existed all season. It always seems to come down to execution issues on defense or on offense. The games are almost always close. The coaching staff gets the blame for the losses, but that might not be a view shared by Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.
"Tough game, obviously," Harbaugh said. "The Chargers are a very good football team. I thought they played really well. Very well-coached team, and it's a big win for us." While Staley and his staff would likely thank Harbaugh for the compliment, there are plenty of people that would disagree with that statement.
The Chargers defense is ranked last in defensive yardage allowed per game at 390.6 and last in passing yardage allowed per game at 280 yards per game. The offense has struggled in late game situations and the running game is struggling. For the second game in a row, quarterback Justin Herbert led the Chargers in rushing yardage.
The offensive line is struggling to open holes for the running game, and without a running game, Herbert has to win the game with his arm and with his legs. The offense lacks explosive plays. The Chargers just don't have a lot of team speed and the current receiving group, without injured Mike Williams and injured Josh Palmer, is mediocre at best.
In the game against the Ravens, wide receiver Keenan Allen had 14 receptions for 106 yards. The other four wide receivers combined caught four passes for 30 yards. The passing attack has become Herbert to Allen, and while that is great if you have Allen on your fantasy team, but that is not great for the passing offense.
One offensive drive in the second half of the game epitomized the Chargers offense these days. The Chargers had a 19 play, 61-yard drive that lasted 8 minutes and 44 seconds but produced no points. There were six completions to Allen on the drive. The drive started at the Chargers 15 yard-line and got to the Ravens 12-yard line but ended with a strip sack of Herbert by linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, who also recovered the fumble.
The Chargers took the opening kickoff of the game and drove to the Ravens 11-yard line. On second and nine from the Ravens 11-yard line, Herbert scrambled to the six and was hit late and hard with both feet out-of-bounds by safety Geno Stone, but there was no penalty call for a late hit. Instead, the Chargers were flagged for a 15-yard personal foul when left guard Jamaree Salyer retaliated, pushing a Ravens player.
The blown call by the refs cost the Chargers a chance for a touchdown on the opening drive. The Chargers settled for a 39-yard field goal from Cameron Dicker. The Chargers led 3-0, but in a close game, those extra four points were very important, as well as finishing the opening drive with a touchdown.
The star in this game was rookie Ravens wide receiver Zay Flowers, who caught a three-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Lamar Jackson to give the Ravens a 7-3 lead and scored on a 37-yard end around to give the Ravens the final margin of 20-10. Jackson was pleased to finally see Flowers get going.
"It was awesome," Jackson said. "We need a lot more, if anything. I've been waiting on him to score multiple times in a game, but having that last one with the run, that was a nice run." Flowers was selected with the 22nd overall pick in the first round. He leads the Ravens in receptions and receiving yards, yet they want more.
The Chargers will travel to Foxborough, Massachusetts to take on the New England Patriots on Sunday, December 3rd. The game will be televised on CBS and will begin at 10:00 am PST. The Patriots have struggled this season, with a record of 2-9, the worst record in the AFC. The Patriots average 13.5 points per game, the worst in the AFC and 31st out of 32 teams in the NFL.
The Patriots have struggled at quarterback, leading to 14 interceptions, which ranks 31st in the NFL and a -8-turnover ratio, which also ranks 31st in the NFL. The Chargers need a win badly to keep their slim playoff hopes alive and do not want to return to Los Angeles with a four-game losing streak.