Upon Further Review: Baltimore @ San Diego

Welcome to another edition of Upon Further Review, a piece I'm going to try to do for every game this season. I'm not going to rehash debates that have been talked about repeatedly, but rather try to look for things that tend to get overlooked when viewing the game live. Again, I've got no actual football experience, so keep that in mind. Read my analysis after the jump.

First Quarter:


  • There was a really bad non-call on the Chargers' first possession of the game. Bennett caught a swing pass in the flat and was tackled for no gain. Well after the play was over, Ngata just shoved him, with an official starting right at him. No flag, the referee just ushered him away.

  • The first of several delays of game. It was honestly a sort of tickey tack call. Normally, officials will wait about a full second after the clock hits zero before throwing the flag. This time, they threw it a nano-second after the play-clock hit ran out. I'm reminded of a play in the Ravens' divisional game at Tennessee where the officials let the clock sit at zero for about two full seconds and threw no flag. It ended up allowing the Ravens to win the game.

  • Rivers threw a perfect strike to Chambers and would have converted the 3rd and 12. Chris just has to hold on to that. Went right through his hands.

  • On that same play, the Ravens overload-blitzed the left side. Sproles picked up one guy, and Rivers delivered the ball a fraction of a second before getting hit by the second.

  • I'm concerned about Scifres. The first punt was a clunker. I hope his groin isn't too bad.

  • On the play where Flacco fumbled the snap, Weddle was coming on a safety blitz. Nice to see them mixing it up on defense.

  • Again, questionable officiating on the same play. You've got one referee signaling Chargers' ball, and another throwing a flag on Cooper for delay of game. I'm not sure why the other officials overruled the one who signaled San Diego ball. On replay Flacco got a hand on it, but Cooper stuck his arm in there as well, and eventually came up with the ball. Why isn't that a turnover?

  • On the ensuing 3rd down, Flacco overthrew his back. Even if he hadn't Castillo made a nice play, got past the blockers, and would have taken him down before he picked up the first.

  • We had a blitz called on this play, with Weddle again rushing. Good play call, as the pressure probably forced a bad throw and a punt.

  • On the Sproles TD, just terrible defense by the Ravens. No one picked up Darren out of the backfield. Ray Lewis decided he felt more like hitting Jackson and went out of his way to do so, though it's questionable if he could have gotten over in time to make the play even if he hadn't.

  • One the Ravens' next possession, a lot of just plain old bad tackling helped them move the ball. Merriman caught McClain in the backfield, and just let him slip through his fingers. Cooper could have held him to a short gain, but got juked and whiffed.

  • Linebacker over-pursuit continues to be a problem.

  • Sure was nice to have Jacques Cesaire back.

  • On McGahee's first TD, we just got blown off the ball. No other way to put it.

  • Cromartie is not a good kick returner when he isn't facing a field goal unit.

  • It may have been a good idea to use Bennett more, both to keep Sproles fresh and because he was running well. A couple times our offensive line got a good push on a stacked box.

  • Floyd continues to show himself to be a reliable big-play target. The offensive line did a great job protecting Philip from a 6-man rush and delayed-blitz from Ray Lewis to give him time to find Malcolm.

  • On the ensuing goal-to-go series, the first down rush got us inside the 5 yard line. It may have behooved us to run it again, seeing as we were getting early results. But on the ensuing pass-play, Floyd was open on the left side of the end zone, so this call was a good one. Unfortunately, Dielman got beat straight up by Ngata who sacked Rivers. On 3rd down, the Ravens threw an all-out blitz at Rivers, who never had time to find anyone. It may have been better to put Philip in the shotgun, to give him an extra second to hit a hot-receiver once he saw the blitz coming.

  • Ravens caught a lucky break when Carr fumbled the next kick-off out of bounds.

  • The final play of the quarter was a long pass play where Flacco overthrew the receiver, who was being well-covered by Cromartie. Our rush got in his face a little, and may or may not have contributed to the overthrow.

Analysis: The game is still well in hand at this point. We're moving the ball well, though we had to settle to a field goal. On defense, we still had issues with missed tackles and overpursuit. Only on the touchdown were we really over-powered. These things are fixable through practice and coaching. There is hope.



Second Quarter:


  • More missed tackles. Merriman got into the backfield and should have blown up a hand-off to McGahee. Instead he whiffs, and they pick up 11 yards.

  • Starting to see flashes of good run defense. On one first down run, they got penetration, held discipline, and made a tackle for a loss.

  • Castillo is having a good game. He's fighting off blocks and getting penetration.

  • When Burnett got flagged for PI, we again got some good pressure. We forced Flacco to move, and he threw the ball into coverage. Phillips was a half-second too late to knock the ball out of his hands.

  • The PI call: At first it looks like a good call. Burnett is contacting Heap without looking for the ball. But, Heap gives Burnett a major push off before the ball gets there. This should have been no-call, or off-setting penalties. Instead, the officials ignored Heap's push and flagged Burnett.

  • For McGahee's second TD, we again just got overpowered and pushed back into the end zone.

  • The reverse to Nannee could have worked if Philip knew how to block. He doesn't.

  • Jackson continues to show he's one of the best receivers in football.

  • On Suggs's sack, he didn't make the play. Lewis shot up the middle untouched and forced Philip out of the pocket. Suggs just chased him down. At the end of the play, linebacker Jarrett Johnson delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit on Rivers. No flag. This is just awful and unconscionable. He comes in while Phil is going down and just gives him a helmet to the face. Terrible. Apparently these rules protecting quarterbacks only apply to Brady, Manning, and Favre.

  • Scifres's second punt was much better.

  • More secondary blitzes. Pressure forces Flacco to run on 2nd down.

  • On the ensuing 3rd down, we blitzed 6, got great pressure, and forced a bad throw to Heap, who was double-covered.

  • Turner did a good job using screens to beat the blitz.

  • I have no idea what the Ravens were complaining about on the incompletion to Chambers in the end zone. There's equal contact on both sides, and Chambers never takes his eyes off the ball. Nothing close to a push-off.

  • Gates looks like the Gates of old. His speed, quickness, and agility are all there. My one issue with him is that he's starting to show a tendency to fumble. We'll never forget his fumble that got returned for a touchdown during last year's home opener. I know I'll never forget his fumble in overtime against the Colts as well, one that he was lucky enough to fall on and recover himself. He's really got to stop this, though. Thank goodness Jackson is heads up.

  • Ray Lewis was shooting the gap up the middle all day long. Someone needed to account for that.

  • On the Kelley Washington TD, we got good penetration, but Cason just blew the coverage. If not for that, I think we get a sack that play, or at the least he dumps it off to a back for minimal or no gain.

  • Again, Sproles is really killing it on KO returns this year.

  • Great pass play on 4th and 2. Really think we should have done something similar at the end of thegame.

  • On 2nd and goal, a free rusher came through and nailed Rivers a split second after he threw the ball. This is probably what was on Turner's mind when he elected to kick the field goal on 3rd down.

Analysis: The pass rush got better, but still missed tackles and blown coverages hurt us a lot. The officiating was terrible, especially the non-call on the helmet-to-helmet hit. I don't know what the point of having these new rules to protect quarterbacks is if you aren't going to throw the flag.



3rd Quarter:


  • Defense did a great job forcing a 3-and-out on Baltimore's opening possession. They stopped overpursuing, and made better tackles. On 3rd down, Castillo did a great job getting penetration and forcing Flacco into a quick throw that was off target.

  • The ensuing flag for running into the kicker was tickey tack.

  • The defense did a great job recovering and forcing another 3-and-out. There was good coverage down field, good pressure that forced a hurried throw, a great job by Cason to shake a block and make a tackle, and a great pass-defensed by Jammer.

  • The interception was just a bad, bad decision by Philip, but it wasn't entirely his fault. Ray Lewis (again) came flying up the middle untouched, forcing Rivers to sprint (I use the term loosely) out of there and try to throw it away. Unfortunately, he tried to throw it away without looking, and it got picked off.

  • On the TD to Heap, we got good penetration and harassed Flacco. He did a good job of stepping up, though, and found Heap, who had gotten open in front of Gregory.

Analysis: The defense picked it up in this quarter. The only points surrendered were off a short field from a turnover. The offensive line was OK, doing a good job giving Philip time for the most part, most notably on the TD to Jackson.



4th Quarter:


  • Merriman definitely looks quicker. He's getting there.

  • Speaking of Merriman, he made just an amazing play timing the snap, getting into the backfield and hitting Flacco. As the replay shows he moved with the ball, not before it. Just incredible.

  • Even with Merriman, the interception doesn't happen if Cason doesn't step in front of that pass. We was in good position, read the quarterback, and made the play.

  • Have I said how awesome Jackson is? Just makes great catch after great catch.

  • On our last field goal drive, you have to hand it to the Ravens. On first down, they forced Philip to run. On 2nd down, they blanketed our receivers and Rivers had to throw it away. On 3rd down, they read the screen and tackled Sproles short of the goal line. Just good defense.

  • Jyles Tucker made a real nice play on a running play, shooting a gap to force a runner to go outside, where Weddle came up and made a tackle for a loss.

  • On the ensuing 3rd down, Burnett made a nice open field tackle to force a punt. He's getting better.

  • On Rivers's 2nd pick, the non-call of PI isn't that blatant. The DB did arrive before the ball, but it was a bang-bang play—sometimes those are called and sometimes they aren't. It was PI, but if that was called on us, I'd probably have called it tickey tack.

  • Can't say enough about the defense on the Ravens' ensuing possession. They were handed a bad situation, and responded by getting a tackle for a loss on a running back, a sack, and a 7 yard gain on 3rd and 21. You can't really ask for more, other than a turnover.

  • I'm not going to say much about the final San Diego offensive play, as it's been discussed ad naseum. I agree that in that situation, you shouldn't be taking the ball out of Philip's hands. But it wasn't that bad, because if any of three Charger blockers had picked up Lewis, that play would have worked.

Analysis: The defense came up big in the 4th quarter. The Ravens got nothing, and when they had to take a short field after a pick, they pushed the Ravens backward.



Final Thoughts:


First, I want to single out two players who quietly had really good days, a couple players who fans like to bag on. First, Luis Castillo played one hell of a game. He was constantly in the Baltimore backfield, forcing hurried throws and chasing running backs down. He drew double teams on multiple occaisions. He had the Chargers' lone sack, which was huge, and probably helped prevent another touchdown. Even when he wasn't making tackles, he was always around the ball, forcing the Ravens' players to cut outside, or go where they didn't want to go and others made the tackle. He's one Charger who didn't overpursue or miss any tackles. Without Jamal to clog up the middle, we need these kinds of performances out of Castillo. On Sunday, he gave us exactly what we needed.


The second player is Jeromey Clary. He did and OUTSTANDING job on the right side. The Ravens got nothing past him. He didn't commit any penalties, kept his guys off Philip, and blocked hard on running plays. Kudos, Jeromey. Keep up the good work.


Now, once again, the defense played bad for about two quarters, and picked it up in the second half. Even when they allowed all those yards on the ground in the first half, the culprit was, again, overpursuit and missed tackles. Even with Jamal not there, those were our problems, not overall talent on the line. These things are FIXABLE. In 2007 and 2008, we started the season with these exact problems, and as the season progressed they were fixed. They can and will be fixed again.


That said, the defense again stepped it up in the second half. The only points they allowed were off short fields from turnovers where the Ravens were already in the red zone when they took possession. Merriman again looks better, and continues to improve. There is plenty of hope for this defense. If the fixable things are fixed, they should do much better. Nuagbo and Martin played really well, especially considering how inexperienced they are. They should continue to improve.


I'm not going to say much about the offense, because there isn't much to say. They moved the ball seemingly at will, and couldn't punch it in. Part of that is symptomatic of having no running game. Part of that is having inexperienced linemen who commit penalties. Part of that was failing to call a single fade to the corner of the end zone. And part of it was just good Baltimore defense. Again, Philip Rivers proved how good a quarterback he is, and Vincent Jackson proved that he is hands down one of the best receivers in all football.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Bolts From The Blue community and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bolts From The Blue editors or SB Nation.

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