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Scouting Report: Chargers vs. Ravens
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The San Diego Chargers return home for the first of two straight games at Qualcomm Stadium when they host the AFC North leading Baltimore Ravens. The game marks the team’s annual alumni game where former punter Darren Bennett will be inducted into the team’s ring of honor at halftime.
A Look Back At Last Week
The Chargers dropped their second game in a row and saw their record fall to 4-6 as they were defeated by the Denver Broncos, 30-23. Danario Alexander came through with another impressive performance, catching seven balls for 96 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Chargers also recorded their first safety in two seasons, but it wasn’t enough to stop Peyton Manning and company as the Broncos swept the season series with the Bolts.
What to Watch For…
On Offense for the Chargers
After a sluggish first half in Denver, the Chargers’ offense came alive in the second half, sparked by the strong play of Danario Alexander who had two touchdown receptions. Overall, the third-year player has been a revelation since signing on Oct. 22. He has 15 catches for 291 yards and three touchdowns in the last three games with the Bolts, including a career-best 134 yards against Tampa Bay two weeks ago. The Chargers will need more out of their run game, as they haven’t had a rushing touchdown since Week 5 in New Orleans.
On Offense for the Ravens
Baltimore’s offense rides on the right arm of Joe Flacco, who’s on pace for a 4,000- yard season with 2,495 yards, a 60.4% completion percentage, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His top target has been Anquan Boldin, who leads the Ravens with 48 catches and 627 yards, but his most dangerous target has been Torrey Smith, who leads the team with seven touchdown catches and averages 17.3 yards per reception. Their ground game is paced by the ever dangerous Ray Rice, who’s run for 697 yards and seven touchdowns on 164 carries, averaging 4.3 yards per rush.
On Defense for the Chargers
Several young players stood out on defense for the Chargers in their loss to the Broncos, and the Bolts will look for big games out of them this week as well. Cornerback Marcus Gilchrist, a second-year player who was a second-round draft pick in 2011, tipped a pass on a blitz that was intercepted and returned 23 yards for a touchdown by Eric Weddle. Defensive end Kendall Reyes, a second-round pick in this year’s draft, who was playing in just his 10th NFL game, had two fourth-quarter sacks against Peyton Manning.
On Defense for the Ravens
The Ravens will face the Chargers without 13-time Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis, who has been sidelined by a triceps injury. As a result, Baltimore’s defense hasn’t lived up to their high standards, ranking 27th against the run and 23rd against the pass. Despite the loss of Lewis, the Ravens still feature a force up front in Haloti Ngata (four sacks) and eight-time Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed, who has three interceptions this year.
The Chargers and Ravens have met eight times since the former Cleveland Browns relocated to Baltimore in 1996 and the teams both have four wins apiece. The Chargers won the previously mentioned last meeting, 34-14, in San Diego. The Bolts have won two of the last three in the series and are 4-2 in games played in San Diego.
By the Numbers
For the year, the Chargers rank 23rd in total offense (328.8 yards per game), 17th in passing (228.5 ypg), 22nd in rushing (100.3 ypg) and 16th in points (23.2). The Ravens rank 21st in total offense (338.7 ypg), 16th in passing (239.6 ypg), 25th in rushing (99.1 ypg) and seventh in points (26.7)
Defensively, the Bolts rank eighth in total defense (329.9 ypg), 19th in passing (236.0 ypg), third in rushing (87.9 ypg) and 13th in points allowed (22.1). Baltimore ranks 25th in total defense (382.3 ypg), 23rd in passing (250.1 ypg), 27th in rushing (132.2 ypg) and ninth in points allowed (20.6).
Milestones on the Horizon
Philip Rivers (26,787 career passing yards) needs just 192 more to move past John Hadl (26,938) for second in team history.
Rivers has thrown for 2,461 yards through the season’s first 10 games (246.1 yards per game) and is on pace for a 3,938 yard season, which would make him the first Chargers quarterback ever with five-straight seasons of 3,500-or-more passing yards.
Ryan Mathews (2,291 career rushing yards) is currently ninth on the team’s all-time rushing list. He needs 229 more yards to pass Dick Post (1967-70) for eighth. Mathews has 14 career rushing touchdowns and is just three scores shy of moving into the Top 10. Currently the Top 10 is rounded out by Hank Bauer (1977-82), Rod Bernstine (1987-92), Dick Post (1967-70) and Clarence Williams (1977-81), who each scored 17 rushing touchdowns during their Chargers’ careers.
Antonio Gates (80 career touchdown catches), needs one more to tie Lance Alworth’s team record of 81.
Gates has 623 career catches and needs 40 more to pass Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome (662) for the fourth-most catches by a tight end in NFL history.
Gates (8,138 career yards) currently ranks fourth all-time in receiving yards by a tight end.
Shaun Phillips recorded his 66th career sack last week in Denver, sacking Peyton Manning in the back of the end zone in the third quarter for his first-career safety. With his 66th sack, Phillips moved past Lee Williams (65.5) and into third on franchise’s all-time sacks list. Heading into Sunday’s game vs. Baltimore, Phillips needs just one more to tie Gary “Big Hands” Johnson (67) for second. Phillips leads the team this season with six sacks, 13 pressures and eight quarterback hits.
Quentin Jammer (20) is tied with Chuck Allen (1961-68) for 10th on the team’s all-time interceptions list. With one more, Jammer will tie Woodrow Lowe (1976-86), Bob Howard (1967-74) and Leslie “Speedy” Duncan (1964-69) for seventh.
Nick Novak ranks seventh on the Chargers’ all-time field goals list with 36. He needs seven to move past Steve Christie (42 field goals from 2001-03) and into sixth.
Eric Weddle (16) needs four interceptions himself to crack the Top 10.
Malcom Floyd (3,766 receiving yards) needs 189 to crack the team’s career Top 10 list.
Antoine Cason (245 int. return yards) needs 64 to crack the team’s career Top 10 list.
The Chargers need four regular-season victories to reach 400 all-time. The Chargers’ all time regular-season record is 396-390-11.
A.J. Smith is the winningest general manager in franchise history with 95 wins. He needs five wins to see the team reach 100 wins under his watch.
Norv Turner (115) ranks 32nd in NFL history for career wins. Turner needs two wins to tie Dennis Green (117) for 31st, three to tie George Allen (118) for 30th and eight to tie another former Chargers coach, Sid Gillman (123), for 29th.
Chargers outside linebacker Atwan Barnes was a fourth-round pick by Baltimore in 2007 and played for the Ravens from 2007-09.
Tackle Jared Gaither played for the Ravens from 2007-10. Gaither is from Greenbelt, Md. and attended the University of Maryland.
Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson was a fourth-round pick by Baltimore in 2003 and played for the Ravens from 2003-11.
Fullback Le’Ron McClain was a fourth-round pick by Baltimore in 2007 and played for the Ravens from 2007-10.
Defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin was a fifth-round pick by Baltimore in 2003 and played for the Ravens from 2003-06.
Cornerback Chris Carr played for the Ravens from 2009-11.
Chargers punter Mike Scifres and Ravens safety Ed Reed are former high school teammates at Destrehan (La.) High School.
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh is the older brother of former Chargers quarterback Jim Harbaugh.
Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron held the same post with the Chargers from 2002-06.
Offensive assistant Todd Washington was a training camp coaching intern with the Chargers in 2009.
NFL Network (simulcast on KFMB, Channel 8 in San Diego) – Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Dan Fouts (analyst)
Rock 105.3 FM, XTRA Sports 1360 (San Diego) and AM 570 KLAC (Los Angeles & Orange County) – Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Hank Bauer (analyst) and Mike Costa (reporter)
Spanish Radio –XHFG 107.3 (San Diego) and KWKW 1330 AM (Los Angeles) – Jorge Villanueva (play-by-play) and Dante Lazcano (analyst) Read