It’s time for take two...and this time, it’s do or die.
As the Chargers filed into the locker room, they knew they’d either be heading to Pittsburgh or Baltimore for Wild Card Weekend.
They found out the answer to that question together as they watched the Ravens pick off Baker Mayfield, clinching the AFC North in the process.
So, it’s off to Baltimore, where they’ll kick off at 10:05 a.m. PT in a rematch of the Bolts’ 22-10 Week 16 loss.
Add it all together and you can imagine the litany of questions the team faced about going up against them once again.
“Baltimore is a good football team,” Head Coach Anthony Lynn said. “I think they’ve proven that over the last six weeks. We’re somewhat familiar with this team, played them a couple weeks ago, so I look forward to it again.”
His team does as well.
“It’s a heck of a challenge,” said Philip Rivers. “I don’t think there was really a team that wasn’t going to be a heck of a challenge. To get to this point, there are only 12 teams in. Again, this first weekend where eight teams are playing and they’re all good. That’s a team that out-played us last week. It’ll be a new game, new everything and we’ll see who can play the best this time through.”
“Let’s get it!” Derwin James added. “Round two, let’s get it. It was a good battle, but now round two, let’s get it. This is the one that really counts.”
Perhaps no one is happier to have another crack at the Ravens than Antonio Gates, whose late fumble was a crucial turning point in the game.
“Baltimore is a good team,” he said.” A very good football team with a good defense. We get a chance to redeem ourselves. Me personally, I get a chance because I fumbled the ball at the end. That absolutely motivates me. I always go about my business in a professional manner. To me, it was all about letting the team down more so than it was about me getting over it. And now I have that chance to help this team get a win this time.”
Overall, it truly didn’t matter to the Bolts who they would face. Damion Square couldn’t care less who they were going to play, but he admits he likes the idea of avenging a previous loss.
“I want Baltimore,” he said. “We got Baltimore. I want Baltimore. See you all in Baltimore.… We did some good things in that game as a defense. Started off slow in the first half. They put up some big numbers. We kind of got the run under control in the second half or whatever, but we did some good things. (We) did some promising things. We just didn’t finish the game. We had opportunities to finish the game, just did not finish and this time we’ve got to finish. It’s simple.”
Meanwhile, this marks the first taste of the playoffs for the majority of the locker room.
Thus, Casey Hayward is putting the onus on himself to make sure they know the intensity is about to reach a whole new level.
“We played Baltimore before,” he said. “We’ve got to come ready. I always said, if you haven’t been in the playoffs, it’s going to be a lot different. It’s a little bit more intense. You’ve got to come more prepared as you’ve ever been. I’ve been to the playoffs four years. This is going to be my fifth year, but it’s always more intense. If you played the team earlier in the year, it’s a lot different. They’re going to play harder, it’s going to be a lot different.”