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Other Week 8 Game Recaps

Week 8 Game Recap: San Diego Chargers 26, Baltimore Ravens 29

What you need to know

San Diego Chargers

Wide receiver Keenan Allen had a nice first half, capped with an acrobatic touchdown catch as the second quarter clock wound down. Head coach Mike McCoy said at halftime that Allen would be fine and just had the wind knocked out of him. But after coming out for the second half kickoff, Allen was seen with a wrap on his side and soon went back to the locker room and did not return.

Quarterback Philip Rivers put up yet another 300-yard performance, despite missing top target Keenan Allen for the second half and tight end Antonio Gates being less than 100% coming in. Rivers also watched several linemen go in and out of the game with injuries, but once again put up big fantasy stats.

The San Diego running game is still very much in flux. For the second straight game, Danny Woodhead didn't get much work until very late in the contest. And then once he did, he was clearly the most effective rusher on the team. Yet once again, Melvin Gordon had more touches from scrimmage. Despite the rookie's struggles, the team appears determined to work him into the gameplan in some way.

Baltimore Ravens

Flacco and Ravens offense played efficient football against the Chargers. The injury to Steve Smith will be a big blow to the offense but Kamar Aiken and Chris Givens made plays after Smith left with injury. The running game again struggled to find a rhythm and Jeremy Zuttah suffered a shoulder injury and was unable to finish the game. The Ravens bye week comes at the perfect time for their offensive line to get healthy and for the receivers to settle into their expanded roles. Crocket Gillmore could have had a much bigger afternoon statistically and should be even more involved after the bye week. Justin Forsett may continue to lose fantasy value with Buck Allenís role growing weekly and Joe Flacco becoming the Ravens best option on the goal line.

San Diego Chargers

QB Philip Rivers, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 28 - 37 - 301 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0
Rivers entered the game with the NFL record for most passing attempts over a four game span. He left this game with yet another 300-yard performance, despite losing several key weapons for extended periods as well as a few more offensive linemen. Despite the lack of protection (or perhaps because of it), Rivers did a nice job with the quick strike offensive philosophy. Most of his targets were underneath, and he picked his spots to look downfield on the rare occasions that he had a little extra time to do so. He lost wide receiver Keenan Allen for the entirety of the second half after he left with an injury, lost tight end Ladarius Green very early on with an ankle injury, lost Stevie Johnson for a spell during the first half with a shoulder injury, and his safety valve Antonio Gates played sparingly after entering the game with an MCL injury (knee). But as usual, Rivers found ways to make it work with the personnel he DID have in there. He twice found Malcom Floyd for touchdowns, the first one a fantastic individual effort by Floyd to fight off the defender for the football on a fade pass. The second was a deep bomb down the middle of the field for 70 yards when the Chargers did a terrific job of picking up the Baltimore blitz. His other touchdown pass was another great effort by his receiver, the aforementioned Allen injury. Rivers put the ball high in the back left corner of the end zone to Allen, who went up and snagged it over the defender. Upon landing, however, Allen appeared to be in some pain and he did not return to the contest. Rivers kept his team in the game with smart decisions and zero turnovers, though there were two close calls. On one, he fumbled the snap on a third down play that was designed to be a run, but he recovered it himself. On another, the ball was snapped at his feet, but he flipped it away for an incompletion before anyone could grab it.

RB Melvin Gordon, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 54 - 0, Rec: 5 - 7 - 0 (6 targets)
Gordon was on the field to start the game, and got a handoff on the very first play from scrimmage. He ran hard throughout the contest, and fought for yardage when there didn't appear to be much there. But once again, there was very little success in the stat sheet at the end of the game. PPR owners will be pleased by the five receptions, but none of them went anywhere (long gain of just four yards). He couldn't find any holes in the run game (not that there were many to speak of). And to top it all off, he fumbled the ball again. Fortunately for Gordon, it bounced right back up to him and he recovered it himself. But it was yet another unimpressive performance in what has become a season full of them. Despite the lack of success, Gordon still saw 23 touches from scrimmage versus just eleven combined for Danny Woodhead and Branden Oliver. The Chargers may not be winning games or having very much success on the ground, but they still appear committed to getting Gordon involved in the gameplan every week.

RB Branden Oliver, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 18 - 0, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (2 targets)
Oliver didn't really get much work to speak of in the first half, but after halftime he got a surprising amount of action considering both Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead are healthy coming into the game. Oliver was even in the game early in the fourth quarter when the Chargers were trying to mount their comeback. Despite the huge success Danny Woodhead has seen in recent weeks, Gordon still had more touches from scrimmage, 6-5. It was a curious gameplan by San Diego, to say the least. That's not to say Oliver was ineffective, as he averaged a game high 4.5 yards per carry. He was about to be given a handoff on a third down short yardage attempt, but Rivers fumbled the snap so we'll never know if Oliver would have converted it. Late in the game, it was Woodhead and not Gordon or Oliver, who saw the majority of the run game duty.

RB Danny Woodhead, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 9 - 0, Rec: 2 - 36 - 0 (3 targets)
In a game that was close throughout, Woodhead saw shockingly little action. Starter Melvin Gordon had 23 touches and totaled 61 yards. Even third-string rusher Branden Oliver had six touches that went for 34 yards. Yet Woodhead's five touches resulted in 45 yards, a far more efficient rate than either of the other two. It looks like Woodhead simply has another gear that neither of the other two have in tight spaces; and with the state of the San Diego offensive line and its inability to block anyone, most of these plays occur in tight spaces. With the Chargers driving downfield to try and tie or win the game late in the fourth quarter, Woodhead was the one entrusted to fulfill the running back duties, which is telling. But the team seems pretty intent on giving more touches to the rookie Gordon, even at the expense of the more effective rusher.

WR Keenan Allen, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 35 - 1 (5 targets)
Allen had a nice first half, or at least a busy one. As usual, he piled up the receptions and was on his way to another nice game. Just before halftime, he made a remarkable catch in the back corner of the end zone on a deep pass from Philip Rivers. Allen went high over the defenders to snag it out of the air as his body twisted towards the ground. The defender was all over him, but he maintained his concentration to haul it in as well as keeping possession all the way to the ground. Unfortunately, upon hitting the ground he appeared to be in some pain. Head coach Mike McCoy was interviewed by a sideline reporter and said that Allen would be fine and that he just had the wind knocked out of him. But after coming out of the locker room for the second half, Allen was seen wearing a heat wrap of some sort on his side. He reportedly headed back to the locker room, and did not return to the game.

WR Malcom Floyd, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 92 - 2 (6 targets)
Floyd had three short receptions, one of which went for a touchdown (he was even interfered with on the play) where he made a very tough catch with the defender hanging all over him. The other short two catches were near the sidelines in front of the defender, and obviously went for minimal yardage. And then he broke free deep down the field for a wide open 70-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter. The Chargers did a perfect job of picking up the blitz, and Philip Rivers found Floyd in stride at about the 30-yard line. Floyd did the rest in out-running the Baltimore defense the rest of the way for the easy score. Number one option Keenan Allen was injured just before halftime, so Floyd would probably see an increased role if Allen were to miss any time. Be sure to check back for updates on Allen's status this week.

WR Steve Johnson, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 28 - 0 (4 targets)
Johnson was one of many Chargers to get banged up in this game. His first reception came early on when he went up high to make a grab. There was nobody around him, so he took off and turned upfield for a 23-yard gain. But at the end of the play, he was tackled awkwardly and landed hard on his shoulder. Johnson left the game with his shoulder hanging at his side in pain, but he did return to the game late in the first half. Despite Keenan Allen leaving the game with an injury at halftime, Johnson didn't do much with the added opportunity. Instead, it was Malcom Floyd who saw the extra passes heading his way late in the game, and took advantage.

WR Dontrelle Inman, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (2 targets)
Inman had just one reception in the game, a key conversion of a third down pass play early in the second quarter that went for a first down. But despite both of the receiving tight ends playing at less than 100%, and Keenan Allen leaving after halftime due to injury, Inman wasn't any more involved in the gameplan than usual.

TE Antonio Gates, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 56 - 0 (5 targets)
Gates was questionable to play this game due to an MCL injury (knee). At times last week, it was reported that it could be a "multi-week injury", but Gates was surprisingly on the active list for this game. He was on the sideline to open the game, but looked plenty healthy going across the field on a crossing route for a 30-yard gain early on. Soon after, he drew a pass interference penalty for a first down with the defender draped all over him. Despite the fact that wide receiver Keenan Allen missed the entire second half, Gates would only add a handful of receptions the rest of the game.

TE John Phillips, 26 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (2 targets)
Starting tight end Antonio Gates came into the game less than 100% due to a knee injury, and his backup Ladarius Green left early after aggravating an ankle injury. So Phillips got a bit more action than usual, resulting in a handful of short receptions. But once the Chargers get down to their third option in the tight end pecking order, the position no longer becomes a position of focus for the offensive gameplan.

TE Ladarius Green, 7 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (1 targets)
Green was a high upside sleeper coming into the week, due to the uncertain status of starting tight end Antonio Gates. Green was on the field to start, not Gates. But after Green's first catch, he went to the sideline to have his ankle re-taped. There were very few updates on his condition, but in the middle of the third quarter, he appeared on the sideline in streetclothes, and did not return to the game.

Baltimore Ravens

QB Joe Flacco, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 37 - 319 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 2 - 1
Joe Flacco picked up where he left off against the Cardinals, turning in one of his strongest performances of the season. The game plan was pass heavy and Flacco kept the offense running efficiently; avoiding three and outs and unfavorable down and distances. The absence of Eugene Monroe was evident as James Hurst struggled and gave up a sack on the opening possession while struggling in the run game. Off of play action Flacco drifted from the pocket and launched a jump ball to Steve Smith who hauled it in for a 46 yard gain. Flacco and Jeremy Ross had a miscue on a slant route that should have been intercepted by Jason Verrett. Against the blitz Flacco stood tall and dropped a perfect pass into the hands of Chris Givens down the sideline for 39 yards. On 4th and 2, well within field goal range, the Ravens decided to go for it. Flacco was well protected but could find no open and escaped the pocket before firing a dart to Kamar Aiken for a 3 yard gain. Flacco had what would have been a 1 yard quarterback sneak touchdown nullified by a false start penalty. The Ravens have struggled in short yardage so Flacco should continue to vulture 1 yard touchdowns from the running game. Flacco found Crocket Gillmore wide open in the flat for a 3 yard touchdown following the penalty. Flacco hit Gillmore down the sideline for a 20 yard gain to open the second half but the catch was ruled incomplete despite simultaneous possession by Gillmore and Ingram. Flacco dropped in another pretty deep ball to Kyle Juszczyk for 39 yards who ran by safety Addae out of an I formation. Flacco was again sacked by Melvin Ingram who bull rushed Hurst and forced a field goal attempt. The Ravens were forced to punt for the first time after Flacco threw too low for Gillmore running open across the field. On back to back plays Steve Smith and Jeremy Zuttah were injured forcing John Urschel to assume snapping duties. Flacco locked onto Aiken after the injury. Flacco immediately found Aiken on an out route for 18 yards as he fell away from the pass rush. Flacco then completed quick passes to Aiken for gains of 7, 10, and 11. Flacco capped the drive with a 1 yard quarterback sneak with an empty backfield. With the game on the line and sans Smith and Zuttah Flacco manufactured a game winning drive. Flacco put a back shoulder throw on the money to Givens for 18 yards. Then hit Aiken in stride on a slant picking up 13 more yards. A bad snap forced the Ravens into 3rd and 19 but a pass interference call drawn by Aiken would set up the game winning field goal.

RB Justin Forsett, 46 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 69 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets)
Justin Forsett again fell victim to game script in a favorable matchup. Flacco and Buck Allen received all of the rushing attempts inside the 5 yard line. Forsett was stuffed on numerous running plays in the first half while the Ravens went pass heavy. The injuries to Monroe, Zuttah, and Osemele hurt the run game. Hurst struggled and Osemele did not quite look like his typical road grading self. However Forsett was able to find more room as the game progressed and almost broke free into the 3rd level a few times. Forsett took a pitch outside on 3rd and 1 and ducked out of bounds for an 8 yard gain. Forsett plowed forward for 8 yards behind Marshal Yanda to get the Ravens out of the shadow of their own end zone. Forsett dodged penetration in the backfield and accelerated through a nice hole for 9 yards. Forsett nearly broke free on the Ravens final possession but was dragged down after an 11 yard gain.

RB Javorius Allen, 21 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 1 - 0, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (4 targets)
Buck Allenís first catch was dump off from Flacco and Allen was tackled before he could turn up field for a 2 yard gain. Allen caught a swing pass from Flacco, juked Brandon Flowers and dove forward for a 9 yard gain. Allen released into the flat after helping out in pass protection, caught the pass from Flacco, and out ran the pursuit down the sideline for 19 yards down to the 1 yard line. Allen was dropped for a 7 yard loss on 3rd thanks to an unblocked blitzing linebacker. Allen continues to get more involved in the offense but Forsett was still getting almost all of the crunch time carries.

WR Kamar Aiken, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 62 - 0 (6 targets)
Kamar Aiken converted a 4th and 2 with a 3 yard catch on his first reception. Aiken was initially well covered on the play but did a triple move working back to Flacco, then break up field, then coming back for the ball and posting up Brandon Flowers. Aiken was immediately targeted when Smith went down injured. He beat Flowers again on an out route and toe tapped out of bounds for 18 yards. Aiken caught a slant against off coverage for 10 yards. Flacco went back to Aiken on a quick out route for 7 more yards the next play. Aiken beat Patrick Robinson on a slant route for 11 more yards. With the game on the line Aiken beat cornerback Williams and drew a 21 yard pass interference penalty to set up the game winning field goal. Aiken will become the Ravens new number 1 wide receiver. Aiken showed his strong hands, quickness and toughness in the short passing game so expect Flacco to look his way often.

WR Steve Smith, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 82 - 0 (7 targets)
Steve Smithís first target fell incomplete but pass interference could have been called; Jason Verrett pulled Smithís arm down as he reached to make the catch. Flacco went back to him on a quick throw to the flat the next play but Verrett wrestled Smith out of bounds after a gain of 3. Smith was well covered initially but ran up field as Flacco escaped the pocket and boxed out Verrett to haul in the jump ball for 46 yards. Smith ran a crossing route again beating Verrett for 9 yards. Smith gained 8 on a curl route and fought for yardage before being gang tackled by 4 defenders. Smith sat down underneath the zone coverage caught the pass from Flacco and exploded up field slipping a tackle for 17 yards. After he was tackled Smith immediately pointed to his ankle and signaled for trainers to assist him. Smith tore his Achilles and will miss the remainder of the season.

WR Chris Givens, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 57 - 0 (4 targets)
Chris Givens beat Brandon Flowers off the line of scrimmage and hauled in a perfect throw from Flacco for a 39 yard gain. Givens did well leaving Flacco room to drop the pass in between him and sideline. Givens caught a quick screen the next play but was dropped for no gain. Givens again caught a quick screen and was dropped after a 2 yard gain but had the completion nullified by a holding penalty. Givens and Flacco showed nice chemistry on a back shoulder completion against Verrett for 18 yards. Look for Givens to get more and more snaps every week. Without Smith the Flacco will look to Givens when the Ravens are in need of a big play.

TE Crockett Gillmore, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 8 - 1 (4 targets)
Crockett Gillmore came wide open in the flat for a 3 yard touchdown after his defender fell down in coverage. Gillmore released down field after initially being covered and had a simultaneous possession ruled incomplete on what would have been a 20 yard gain. Gillmore caught a dump off from Flacco in the flat and was spun out of bounds after a 5 yard gain. Gillmore made a diving attempt but couldnít haul in a low pass from Flacco on what would have been a 12 yard gain. Gillmore beat his man down the seam but Flacco overthrew him on a potential 27 yard touchdown.