Posted November 21, 2012 on
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There's no question that the Baltimore Ravens are the better - and hotter - team in Sunday's road matchup with the San Diego Chargers.
Still, overconfidence shouldn't be a problem after what transpired last season.
With revenge in the back of their minds and star safety Ed Reed available, the Ravens seek a fourth straight win against a Chargers team teetering on the brink of oblivion.
When these teams met last season in San Diego on Dec. 18, Baltimore was 10-3 with a four-game winning streak and on its way to the AFC North title. The Chargers, meanwhile, were 6-7 after rebounding from six consecutive losses and still alive in a weak AFC West.
Records and momentum ended up playing no role as San Diego (4-6) rode an excellent performance from Philip Rivers to a 34-14 victory. Rivers went 17 for 23 for 270 yards and a touchdown to lead the Chargers to scores on six of their first seven possessions. He didn't throw an interception, and the only sack the Ravens got was wiped out by a personal foul on Terrell Suggs.
"It wasn't that pleasant. Before I could look up it was 31-7," Suggs said. "It was like raining touchdowns out there. He's a good quarterback.''
In his last three starts against Baltimore (8-2), Rivers has won twice while going a combined 67 for 103 for 955 yards and six touchdowns with three picks.
At least the Ravens know they won't have to face Rivers without Reed as the last line of defense. The eight-time Pro Bowl safety was suspended one game on Monday for repeated helmet-to-helmet hits, but appealed the suspension and on Tuesday the punishment was reduced to a $50,000 fine.
"You don't win those (appeals) often,'' strong safety Bernard Pollard said. "They still took 50K from him. But he's able to suit up and play. We're excited about that."
Baltimore has many reasons to be excited after it matched the best start in team history with a 13-10 victory at Pittsburgh on Sunday night. Reserve cornerback Corey Graham had an interception and knocked a pass away in the end zone, while Jacoby Jones returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown as the Ravens opened a two-game lead in the AFC North.
"The feeling right now is we're exactly where we want to be but we haven't arrived yet," tight end Ed Dickson told the team's official website. "We want to build from here. It's not how you begin the season; it's how you end the season that brings you a championship."
Winning a championship appears to be something the struggling Chargers can only dream about now. They all but ceded the AFC West to the Broncos with Sunday's 30-23 loss at Denver and are now left with only a desperate shot at a wild-card spot after their fifth loss in six games.
"We can't worry about that. We just have to go try and win a game,'' Rivers said. "We have to hang our hat on controlling what we can control.''
San Diego is in danger of posting its first losing season since 2003, when it went 4-12, and rumors continue to swirl that coach Norv Turner will be fired if the team misses the playoffs for a third straight season.
Beating the Ravens again will be very difficult if Rivers can't find a way to eliminate turnovers. Playing behind a shaky line that has been hit hard by injuries, Rivers has thrown a league-high 14 interceptions and lost four fumbles. He's also been sacked 26 times in 10 games, including four on Sunday.
Turner admits he's worried about the quarterback's well-being.
"Yeah, I am," he said. "I mean, I think for the quarterback position, all you've got to do is look at two weeks ago and there's three or four guys that are laying on the ground with concussions or separated shoulders or whatever."
At least facing the Ravens at home isn't nearly as challenging as playing in Baltimore, where the home team is 5-0 while averaging an NFL-best 36.8 points. Both of the Ravens' losses have come on the road, where they rank 28th in the league with 16.6 points per game.
They are on pace to become only the third team in league history to average 20 more points at home than on the road.
The Ravens and Chargers have split eight all-time meetings, with each team scoring 153 points.
San Diego tight end Antonio Gates is one touchdown catch away from matching Lance Alworth's franchise record of 81.
BEST OF MAXIM
Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed will not be suspended for one game after all.
The future Hall-of-Fame veteran faced the penalty after being flagged for unnecessary roughness during Sunday’s game against the Steelers resulted in what looked like a third-and-final strike against him.
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The NFL initially suspended Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed for one game for his helmet-to-helmet hit during this past Sunday night’s game against the Steelers.
After appealing his suspension, the NFL has decided to reduce Reed’s suspension to a $50,000 fine instead of his entire game check of over $400,000.
On Monday afternoon, the NFL suspended him for one game for his third...
Left to walk after nine years by the Baltimore Ravens last offseason, San Diego Chargers linebacker Jarrett Jones has reason to stick it to his former club when the two teams meet on Sunday.
Yet even he felt the since-overturned one-game suspension against Ravens safety Ed Reed was extreme.
"I thought it was totally BS that they were going to suspend him without pay,"...
Baltimore Ravens FS Ed Reed will play against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday after his one-game suspension was reduced to a fine by the NFL. Reed was suspended for violating the league’s policy of hits on defenseless players.
“I do not believe that your actions were so egregious as to subject you to a one-game suspension without pay,” Ted Cottrell of the NFL’s appeal board...
Veteran Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed has been suspended by the NFL for one game after be flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty in Sunday’s row with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Reed’s helmet-to-helmet collision with Steelers’ receiver Emmanuel Sanders was not the first time Reed has gotten in trouble for similar Hits. According to the NFL, [...]
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Judge: Please explain to the court what you saw.
Witness: Well, it was a pass play. Definitely a pass play. The quarterback threw it. The receiver caught it. He got hit and went down. Then a flag was thrown.
Judge: And the receiver was struck in the head by the defender?
Witness: That is correct.
Judge: And the defender led with his helmet and initiated contact with his helmet?
Baltimore safety Ed Reed won his appeal and will not be suspended for Sunday's game against San Diego.Fantasy Spin:His fine was also reduced to $50,000. The league disciplined Reed earlier in the week for an illegal hit he made against Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders Sunday in Pittsburgh.
The NFL has quite a conundrum going on with its attempts to make the game more safer, protect its shield, and still try to sell the general public on it being a great violent sports. Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed won the appeal of his 1 game suspension and fine, but still has a bone [...]
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With his one-game suspension for repeated illegal hits overturned, Baltimore Ravens free safety Ed Reed expressed gratitude for arbitrator Ted Cottrell granting his appeal and to his organization and teammates for throwing their support behind him. Reed wasn't nearly as warm, though, about the fact that he was punished for what the league described as a pattern of helmet-to...
When I found out Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed received a 1-game suspension for the "repeat offender" rule with illegal hits, I almost fell out of my chair. I couldn't believe the hit Reed put on Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders last Sunday night warranted a flag, let alone a fine or suspension. I did feel a little bit better when I found out Reed...
Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed has avoided a one-game
suspension for late hits after an appeal. He instead will be fined
The Ravens (8-2) fly to San Diego this weekend to play the Chargers in a 4:00 game (EST, Sunday, Nov.25)...and even though the Chargers are 4-6, they are being picked by a lot of media "experts" to beat the Ravens.
This is because Baltimore has a history of playing their worst games against San Diego in Qualcomm stadium. Maybe it's the "Curse ofJohnny Unitas...