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Other Week 18 Game Recaps

Week 18 Game Recap: Los Angeles Chargers 23, Baltimore Ravens 17

What you need to know

Los Angeles Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers led for most of the game against the Ravens. The Ravens were unable to move the ball on offense and were plagued by turnovers, including a first half fumble and interception that each set up Charger field goals. The Chargers were able to play a conservative game plan against a strong Ravens defense that was stout throughout the game. Melvin Gordon injured his knee during the game but was able to return and scored a touchdown. Philip Rivers and the passing game were confined to low volume and short area passes that yielded no touchdowns.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens offense did next to nothing for the first 3 and a half quarters of the game against the Chargers. The Chargers looked prepared for everything the Ravens wanted to do and the Ravens seemed unable to adapt or counter on the fly. Lamar Jackson looked lost and overmatched. Jackson was inaccurate and did not look the part of NFL quarterback in his first playoff start which should be expected. The Ravens found almost no success with their run game and seemed to be overwhelmed by the speed of the Chargers. The Chargers defensive line dominated and Melvin Ingram arguably won the game for the Chargers with numerous huge plays. Ingram looked unstoppable and got James Hurst benched. Jackson and the Ravens did find success late in the game and Jackson threw two touchdowns to Michael Crabtree. Kenneth Dixon also made some nice plays late in the game including a 39 yard catch. Gus Edwards became a non-factor in the game with the Chargers keying on the Ravens early down runs and forcing Jackson into unfavorable down and distances.

Los Angeles Chargers

QB Philip Rivers, 73 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 32 - 160 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 15 - 0
Philip Rivers played tight to the vest on the road against Baltimore. The Chargers led early, and Baltimore struggled to move the ball, so the Chargers were able to play a conservative game plan that called on Rivers to make no mistakes. Rivers had an opportunity at the goal line to score a touchdown on a throw into the flat where Derek Watt nearly fell into the end zone, but the play was ruled just short of the end zone. Rivers also had the opportunity to hit Tyrell Williams up the seam for a possible touchdown but missed him high while anticipating pressure. Rivers also scrambled twice, including once for a third down conversion, and surpassed his season total in rushing yards during the game. The Chargers will travel to New England next Sunday to face the New England Patriots in what promises to be an entertaining game.

RB Melvin Gordon, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 40 - 1, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (1 targets)
Melvin Gordon left the game against the Ravens with a knee injury but was able to return. He was spelled by Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson during the game, but still managed 18 touches. Gordon struggled against a stout Ravens defense but salvaged his fantasy day with a goal line touchdown. Gordon appeared to a score a touchdown on a wild play, but the ball came out of his hands as he was crossing the goal line. The ball was then recovered by the Ravens and returned for an apparent touchdown. The play was ruled a Gordon touchdown but marked down on the one-foot line after a review. Gordon scored on the next play. He also got two carries inside the 10 that were stopped short of the end zone on another drive. Gordon’s successes came primarily on counter plays to the left side of the formation, but otherwise the Ravens defense suffocated the running game. The knee injury that forced Gordon from the game was to the same knee that he injured during the regular season, so his status for next week’s matchup in New England is crucial to watch.

RB Austin Ekeler, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 29 - 0, Rec: 4 - 14 - 0 (4 targets)
Austin Ekeler saw 15 touches against the Ravens. An injury that limited Melvin Gordon and the conservative game plan combined to give Ekeler a prominent role in the offense. The Chargers struggled to generate running room against the Ravens, and Ekeler was no different. In the passing game, Ekeler had receptions that set up a field goal at the end of the second quarter. Ekeler was able to make initial defenders miss during the game, but the Ravens defense was relentless and allowed few opportunities for big gains. While Justin Jackson had two carries in the fourth quarter, it was Ekeler who handled the primary duties in Gordon’s absence. Gordon’s status is important to watch heading into New England next weekend.

RB Justin Jackson, 4 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0
Justin Jackson saw limited playing time against the Ravens despite Melvin Gordon missing time with an injury. When Gordon was out, Austin Ekeler worked as the primary back, with Jackson carrying the ball twice in the fourth quarter for limited gains. Gordon’s status is important to monitor heading into New England next week.

WR Keenan Allen, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 37 - 0 (6 targets)
Keenan Allen had a quiet game against the Ravens. The game plan was conservative as the Chargers got an early lead and the Ravens struggled to move the ball. Allen made a strong catch on a high point along the sideline but was otherwise held to short area catches. Allen also dropped a downfield target from Rivers that was wobbling because of contact on Rivers at the point of the throw. Allen will look to bounce back next week at New England.

WR Mike Williams, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 42 - 0 (5 targets)
Mike Williams had a quiet game against the Ravens largely because of a conservative offensive game plan. Williams was first targeted in the second quarter on a ball that skipped to his feet, but later caught a comeback along the sideline. He later caught a pass down the seam from the slot that set the Chargers up in the red zone and added a two-point conversion on a blown coverage in the end zone. Williams will look to benefit from what projects to be a higher scoring game next week at New England.

TE Antonio Gates, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 35 - 0 (4 targets)
Antonio Gates had a three of his four catches for third down conversions against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Gates is a limited player physically at this point in his career, but still has a good rapport with Philip Rivers, especially in critical times. Gates will face New England next Sunday.

Baltimore Ravens

QB Lamar Jackson, 61 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 29 - 194 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 9 - 54 - 0
The Ravens offense was simply overmatched and outcoached by the Chargers. Lamar Jackson looked lost and incapable as a passer at times. Jackson’s accuracy was very poor. He missed a number of open targets and he turned the ball over on multiple occasions. Basically nothing the Ravens did offensively worked for more than the first 3 quarters of the game. However Jackson does not deserve all the blame for this performance. The Chargers were prepared for everything the Ravens did offensively. The Chargers dominated the line of scrimmage defensively. Melvin Gordon truly changed the game and looked unstoppable. Jackson was rarely given time to throw from a clean pocket. The Ravens seemed unable to get Jackson some easy completions to get the passing game going and build his confidence. Jackson had been most effective when targeting running backs and tight ends while his production to wide receivers has been shaky. The one adjustment the Ravens offense seems to have made was to go away from what was working and playing more 3 wide receiver sets which played into the Chargers game plan of playing a higher number of defensive backs and lead to less production. Jackson made a nice throw between two defenders to Willie Snead for 12 yards on 3rd and 6 on the Ravens opening possession. The Ravens managed to score no points and only picked up 3 first downs in the first half. One was the throw to Snead and the other two were long scrambles by Jackson. Lamar Jackson fumbled 3 times in the game including twice on consecutive plays. On the first Jackson simply dropped the ball as he was moving in the pocket but managed to recover the ball and throw the pass away. Jackson’s second fumble was a shotgun snap that was catchable but got past Jackson resulting in a 15 yard loss. Jackson was intercepted targeting Chris Moore on a slant. Jackson’s throw was catchable but the throw was high and of target. On 4th and 11 Jackson connected with Willie Snead on a deep crossing route for 29 yards. Jackson hit Michael Crabtree for a 31 yard touchdown down the sideline on a go route the following play. Jackson’s most spectacular play of the game was a leaping pass off his back foot across his body and to the middle of the field. The pass miraculously made it over the arms of Derwin James and into the hands of Kenneth Dixon for a 39 yard catch and run. A few plays later on 4th and 6 Jackson made a nice throw on the run to Michael Crabtree for a 7 yard touchdown. Jackson and the Ravens got the ball back trailing by 6 with less than a minute remaining and no time outs but a strip sack by Melvin Ingram sealed the game.

RB Kenneth Dixon, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 13 - 0, Rec: 3 - 53 - 0 (3 targets)
Kenneth Dixon had the ball punched out of his hands from behind by Melvin Ingram on his first carry. The Ravens did not get the ball into Dixon’s hands in the open field until the 4th quarter even though Dixon has been their most consistent and explosive playmaker over the last month. Dixon had 3 catches for 53 yards on a single drive including a 39 yard catch and run.

RB Gus Edwards, 21 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 23 - 0
Gus Edwards was a nonfactor in the game against the Chargers. The Chargers made it a point not to allow Edwards to find chunks of yardage up the middle as he had done so effectively for weeks. Edwards was often hit at or behind the line of scrimmage and rarely found room to run.

WR Willie Snead, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 50 - 0 (6 targets)
Willie Snead was the Ravens leading receiver. Snead made his first catch in heavy traffic running a slant for 12 yards. Snead picked up 9 yards on a catch in the flat. Snead came wide open on a deep crossing route and picked up 29 with a nice catch and run.

WR Michael Crabtree, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 38 - 2 (4 targets)
Michael Crabtree made his first catch in the 4th quarter with Casey Hayward in coverage. Crabtree simply ran right by Hayward for an easy 31 yard touchdown. Hayward seemed to be playing the incorrect coverage or expected Crabtree to stop his route. Crabtree worked to get open and moved with Lamar Jackson as he scrambled and was rewarded with a 7 yard touchdown.

TE Mark Andrews, 28 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 31 - 0 (7 targets)
After being the receiver Lamar Jackson has had the most success targeting for weeks Mark Andrews did not see his first target until the first half’s 2 minute warning. Andrews was losing snaps to Maxx Williams and Hayden Hurst when neither player has shown to be the same threat in the passing game as Andrews. Mark Andrews made his first catch with less than 4 minutes remaining in the game for a 9 yard gain. Andrews hurdled a defender for a 9 yard gain on an underneath catch. Andrews gained 13 running a crossing route over the middle.