Ravens falter on defense, can't hold 10-point lead in 4th quarter of 34-33 loss to Chargers



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BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens usually don't lose when their offense amasses more than 30 points and they punt only once.

Then again, it isn't often that they have to face Philip Rivers.

Baltimore blew a 10-point lead in the final six minutes and lost to the San Diego Chargers 34-33 Sunday when Rivers capped a frantic drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Eddie Royal with 38 seconds to go.

Rivers went for 34 for 45 for 383 yards and three touchdowns, two to Keenan Allen, as San Diego (8-4) earned an advantage over Baltimore (7-5) in a potential tiebreaker to determine the wild-card entrant.

"Yeah, 7-5 is a lot different than 8-4 at this point," tight end Owen Daniels said. "And on top of everything else that happened, it was right there for us to take. We let it slip away."

Rivers was the difference. Baltimore led 30-20 with 6:13 remaining and 33-27 with 2:22 left before Rivers provided San Diego with its only lead of the game in the final minute.

"Tip our hat to the Chargers and Philip Rivers," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Obviously a great quarterback and that made the difference."

Baltimore lost at home in November for the first time since 2009. The Ravens, who were 11-0 all-time at home against West Coast teams, fell 1 1-2 games behind AFC North leader Cincinnati.

The defense accepted the blame, even though it forced two turnovers.

"In the NFL, nothing is game, set, match as long as there is time on the clock," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "We're up 10 at home in the fourth quarter and our offense gave us 33 points. Usually that's enough. It wasn't. That's why this is extremely disappointing."

The Ravens last lost a game when they scored 30 points in October 2009, a 33-31 defeat at Minnesota. The last time it happened at home was in 2007, 33-30 in overtime against Cleveland.

"When your offense is able to put up points like our offense did today, we expect to be able to finish," defensive end Chris Canty said. "We didn't hold up our end of the bargain today. It's strange, because this was a big game for us. A pivotal game. It was a great opportunity for us and we let it get away."

Joe Flacco threw for two scores for Baltimore, which wasted four field goals from Justin Tucker and 106 yards rushing from Justin Forsett.

It was 23-20 before Flacco directed a 12-play march that seemingly provided the Ravens with some breathing room. A 31-yard completion to Jacoby Jones, followed by a pass interference call against Shareece Wright, led to the third-down quarterback sneak that made it a 10-point game.

Rivers responded with a 77-yard drive, capped by a 23-yard touchdown pass to Allen with 3:40 remaining.

Jones took the kickoff 72 yards to the San Diego 30, setting up Tucker's fourth field goal. It wasn't enough for the Ravens, who hadn't lost at home since the season opener.

San Diego, on the other hand, got off to an excellent start in a season-ending stretch drive that began in Baltimore and concludes with games against New England, Denver, San Francisco and Kansas City.

"The players never gave up and we just kept plugging away," coach Mike McCoy said. "That's what good teams do. The character of our team once again showed up, and when you've got a great quarterback like Philip Rivers, you got a chance to win every game just as long as there's time left on the clock."

Rivers' longest completion of the year, a 59-yarder to Malcom Floyd, led to a 26-yard field goal by Nick Novak to bring the Chargers to 16-13 early in the third quarter.

On the ensuing drive, Flacco misfired from the San Diego 39. But Eric Weddle inexplicably pushed Flacco to the ground, drawing a roughing-the-passer penalty. Five plays later, Flacco connected with Torrey Smith on a 10-yard pass for a 23-13 lead.

San Diego's only punt came with two minutes left in the third quarter. The Ravens' lone punt occurred with 23 seconds to go in the period.

The Chargers converted all seven third-down tries in the first half, but Baltimore took advantage of two turnovers and scored on all four of its possessions for a 16-10 lead.

Notes: Forsett went over 1,000 yards for the first time in his seven-year career. He's at 1,009. ... Baltimore WR Marlon Brown landed hard on his back after making a first-down catch in the first quarter and left with a concussion. ... Chargers C Chris Watt took a hit on his calf in the third quarter and did not return.


AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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