Chargers, Ravens clash with even more on line
It’s been six years since the Ravens hosted a playoff game, so forgive Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda for forgetting protocol regarding the distribution of tickets.
“Somebody was asking me if we got tickets during the playoff games, and I couldn’t really remember,” he said this week. “I was like, ‘Uh, it’s been a little while.’ ”
The last time Baltimore was at home in the postseason was in 2012, when linebacker Ray Lewis and quarterback Joe Flacco engineered a 24-8 victory over Indianapolis to launch a surprising Super Bowl run.
Lewis is now in the Hall of Fame, and Flacco will be on the bench when rookie Lamar Jackson and the Ravens (10-6) face the Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) in a wild-card game Sunday.
It’s a rematch of a pivotal contest two weeks ago, when Baltimore took control of the AFC North with a 22-10 victory that dropped the Chargers to the No. 6 seed. The Ravens’ top-ranked defense limited Los Angeles quarterback Philip Rivers to 181 yards passing with two interceptions.
“You know they’re going to come back with changes, with wrinkles, and they’re going to play that much harder, because they know what happened the first game,” said Ravens safety Eric Weddle, who played nine years with the Chargers before signing as a free agent with the Ravens in 2016.
The game plan is important, but minimizing errors is what really counts.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a big secret as to what everyone is doing,” Los Angeles coach Anthony Lynn said. “It’s just whoever executes the best is going to win this game.”
If experience means anything at quarterback, the Chargers have the edge. The 37-year-old Rivers has been flinging the football in the NFL since 2004 and has started nine playoff games.
Jackson, a junior at Louisville just a year ago, has been a starter for just under two months. The 21-year-old will be the youngest quarterback ever to start in the postseason.
But the Ravens are 6-1 with Jackson as a starter, and his ability to run has turned Baltimore’s offense into a very efficient unit.
“There’s no substitute for experience,” Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. But he quickly added: “Now sometimes, it’s the quality of experience as well. Man alive, look at all the things he’s done – a very mature young man for that age in many, many ways. And, he’s a very confident guy.”
Some other things to know about the first meeting playoff game involving the Ravens and Chargers: Been a while: This is the Chargers’ first postseason appearance since the 2013 season, and second since 2010.
“When you’re younger you think this is it; you get a shot every year,” Rivers said. “Then when you go once in the last nine or 10 years, you realize how fleeting it is and how hard it is to get in.”
Baltimore is coming off a three-year playoff absence.
AP reporter Joe Reedy in Los Angeles contributed.
“When you’re younger you think this is it; you get a shot every year,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers says of the NFL playoffs. “Then when you go once in the last nine or 10 years, you realize how fleeting it is and how hard it is to get in.”