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Stakes higher in Chargers-Ravens rematch


Reuters
Updated: 05-01-2019 03:45 IST

The visiting San Diego Chargers will get another shot at quarterback Lamar Jackson and the surprising Baltimore Ravens when the teams play an AFC wild card game on Sunday.

The Ravens, in the midst of winning six of their final seven games behind Jackson to capture the AFC North, defeated the Chargers 22-10 in Los Angeles in Week 16.

"There's just less change between the two games," Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters regarding the quick turnaround. "It's kind of like a doubleheader almost. You know them pretty well and you try to change up as much as you can, but you're pretty familiar with each other, that's for sure."

The Ravens (10-6) captured their first division title since 2012 and are in the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

If not for that Week 16 loss, the Chargers (12-4) would have finished with six straight wins and the AFC West crown, earning them a bye week and a home game. Instead they get a cross-country trip and 1:05 p.m. ET start, or 10:05 a.m. in Los Angeles.

Jackson, who will turn 22 the day after Sunday's game, will be the youngest quarterback to start a playoff game in NFL history.

"It really doesn't (matter to me)," Jackson said. "I'm here to play football. I was 21 all year, so this is another game for me."

The youngest quarterback to win a playoff game was Michael Vick (22 years, 192 days) when the Falcons defeated Green Bay 27-7 in 2003.

On the season, Jackson completed 99 of 170 passes for 1,201 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions. He rushed for 695 yards and scored five touchdowns.

"We know that you have to protect the perimeter with this guy, on the edge, one-on-one -- he can win," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn told reporters. "He's like a running back with the ball in his hands. He also can throw it. I watched him throw for a lot of yards in college. He's a dual-threat right now."

Jackson threw for 204 yards and a touchdown and ran 13 times for 39 yards, his lowest rushing total as a starter, in Week 16. That day running back Gus Edwards ran for 92 yards. The following week running back Kenneth Dixon gained 117 against Cleveland.

San Diego's Philip Rivers, 37, passed for 4,308 yards and threw 32 touchdown passes to 12 interceptions this season as he tied the highest quarterback rating (105.5) of his career.

His worst game came against the Ravens. He completed 23 of 37 passes and was intercepted twice while failing to throw a touchdown pass for the only time all season while being sacked four times.

"We've got to be better on third down and keep ourselves out of those third and nine-pluses," Rivers told reporters. "We had a bunch of those. Again, we've got to handle all their pressure. They brought the fight to us. We've got to do a better job of handling that. I've got to do a better job of throwing completions."

The Ravens defense was 11th in the league with 43 sacks and Rivers was sacked 32 times, 15th-most in the NFL.

Rivers has faced the Ravens eight times, producing a 98.4 rating against them with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Running back Melvin Gordon figures to have more touches than the 15 he had in the first meeting. Gordon rushed for 885 yards and caught 50 passes for 490 yards. He scored 14 touchdowns despite missing four games. Gordon tweaked an ankle in the regular-season against Denver but is set to go against Baltimore.

Running back Austin Ekeler, who missed the first meeting with a neck injury, also could be a factor, but he was limited in practice with a groin injury. Ekeler is questionable for the contest.

Baltimore's defense ranked first in the NFL, allowing 292.9 yards per game. The Ravens were second in points (17.9) and third in third-down conversion percentage (34 percent).

The Chargers were ninth in yards (333.7), eighth in points (20.6), but 18th on third down (39 percent).

Pro Bowl safety Derwin James posted the first 100-tackle season by a rookie in Chargers history.

"They play fast, they run to the ball, play hard, gang tackling, all the things that you respect." Harbaugh said.

Ravens cornerback Tavon Young (groin), guard/tackle Alex Lewis (shoulder) and receiver Chris Moore (shoulder, hip) were all listed as questionable.

--Field Level Media

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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