Dec 19, 2011, 5:10 PM EDT
When the Sunday Night Football schedule came out earlier in the year, the week 15 game looked like one of the best of the season. Some of us on the SNF crew were predicting that the Ravens and Chargers would both be 10-3 or 11-2 heading into the contest.
How right and wrong we were.
Baltimore came into Sunday’s game 10-3. But San Diego, after suffering a six-game loosing streak earlier in the season, came in at 6-7.
Our outlook heading into the game was that there was the potential for a blowout.
How right and wrong we were.
It was a blowout, but it was the Chargers who dominated the game, 34-14.
And why not? After all, it was December 18. And the Chargers have this weird thing about December: they win a lot.
San Diego is now 20-2 in regular season games played in December and January in the Norv Turner era.
Philip Rivers has a 25–2 (.923) career record as a starting quarterback in regular-season games in December and January. According to SNF’s ace statistician Ken Hirdt, Rivers owns the top winning percentage since 1950 among QBs with at least 20 starts in those months. Next-best: Daryle Lamonica (18–3, .857), Roger Staubach (17–3, .850).
Tough to explain. Even more tough, according to Rivers, is the fact that they had that six-game skid earlier.
But now the Chargers will try to add to their three game winning streak and either win the AFC West or make the playoffs as a wildcard.
TAKEO SPIKES HOPES SO…
No one would like to take part in the playoffs more than Chargers LB Takeo Spikes. The 14-year veteran owns a dubious record: He’s now played in 201 NFL games, the most among players who have not played a post-season game.
Before the game I asked him if he was aware of the record. “I’m living it,” he responded.
After Sunday night’s win I addressed it with him again, asking him how he likes his chances now. He grimaced and said he loves the view from where he sits. He said he was proud of how the Chargers have not let anyone outside their locker room determine how they would look at themselves. And he said he doesn’t play the game to make it to the playoffs; he wants a ring.
On Sunday night, the Chargers looked like a team that could win one.
SACKLESS IN SAN DIEGO
One of the more remarkable accomplishments made by the San Diego offense Sunday night was that the offensive line didn’t allow a sack.
The Ravens came into the game leading the NFL with 45 sacks on the season — 13 from Terrell Suggs alone.
But the Chargers patchwork O-line kept Rivers clean and enabled San Diego to churn out 415-yards of total offense.
This is an offensive line bereft of superstars, mind you. Remember, the Chargers lost two starters earlier in the season.
LT Jared Gaither was picked up on waivers after starting LT Marcus McNeill had been placed on IR due to a neck injury.
Gaither had been cut by the Chiefs earlier in the season after a critical false start penalty. He played his first four seasons with the Ravens, and his departure from Baltimore was less than amicable. He may have had extra motivation against his old mates.
LG Tyronne Green only earned a starting role after Pro Bowl LG Kris Dielman suffered a concussion against the Jets October 23 and had a grand mal seizure on the plane ride home. Dielman is reportedly considering retirement.
Green missed two weeks earlier in the season with a hand injury.
C Nick Hardwick never played high school football and walked on at Purdue as a sophomore.
(By the way, Hardwick and his wife Jamie welcomed their first child Saturday. Their son’s name is Hudson Harold Hardwick. The new father was elated Sunday telling me with a huge smile that the baby was “awesome.”)
The right side of the line has been more consistent. RG Louis Vasquez missed two weeks with a sprained ankle, but RT Jeromey Clary has started every game this season.
In short, the line has been a “merry-go-round,” as Rivers put it. And the quarterback told us,”It’s harder to develop continuity with the offensive line than it is to get into rhythm with wide receivers.”
The continuity may have arrived just in time.
Hardwick isn’t the only proud papa on the Chargers roster.
In case you’ve lost count, Rivers and his wife Tiffany have six children. Even the 30-year-old dad has a tough time recalling each of their ages. For the record, he tells us they are 9, 6, 5, 3, 2 and 10-weeks.
And the Rivers may not be finished yet….
As punters and kickers were warming up before Sunday Night’s game, Chargers’ punter Mike Scifres, was almost taken out by the foot of kicker Nick Novak.
Scifres was holding for Novak when the kicker went a little early and caught the punter’s hand with his shoe.
Scifres stood up and grabbed his hand in pain. It seemed to take a while before the discomfort was gone.
Scifres told me it wasn’t serious, although safety Eric Weddle took a few practice snaps from LS Mike Windt before the game.
Meanwhile, Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff told me before the game that his injured left calf was not even close to 100-percent. He said, “I’ve had better days.”
But the seven year veteran out of Drake also said he’s been doing this long enough to know he had to be out on the field, pain or no pain.
Cundiff told me the injured plant leg forces him to step lighter and swing easier with the kicking leg. That easier swing, he said, could lead to better results (think golf swing).
Cundiff missed his first field goal attempt, however, a 36-yarder on the Raven’s opening drive.
Failing to score on their first drive was only the beginning of the Ravens problems.
Sunday Night Football TwitterView all »
EJ Manuel says Buffalo's offense is easier than Florida State's http://t.co/m1PZgr29JN
Chargers shielding Te'o from media http://t.co/zwL1Lmz1Fu
Eagles moving on from Miguel Maysonet, which underscores the importance of making a quick impression in OTAs http://t.co/GZlZztIEBS
It's Broncos' Mt. Rushmore nomination time http://t.co/IPM6Ml1dQD
Report: Bills agree to deal with rookie WR Robert Woods http://t.co/pzMOcGyXzn
Peyton Manning's contract didn't change, but the league's treatment of it did, creating $2.5M in '13, '14 cap space http://t.co/j16TlSLR3R
Report: Texans LB Brooks Reed had groin surgery, is "100 percent" for OTAs http://t.co/ymrNoQddvx
Geno Smith says he's learning how to deal with criticism http://t.co/qqdJszLkHg
Broncos still sticking with Rahim Moore http://t.co/UPs6d4jozN
Let's get down to business: Twenty-nine NFL teams holding OTAs this week http://t.co/o5zg353EUh
Charles Woodson interested in Lions, if they're interested in paying him what he wants http://t.co/8AOgJ8OV3D
Patriots hold football clinic in Newtown http://t.co/hiIvATX4vf
PFT's All-Unemployed Team Update: With Freeney gone, John Abraham the best pass rusher left http://t.co/1haFs64s3i
Collin Klein isn't giving up on his NFL dream, yet http://t.co/51mO1EHt3N
Lions 2011 draft class a mess in more ways than one http://t.co/ZOlQaf7qV0
New routine will force Eagles players to be more responsible http://t.co/uENHH7s5yI
Husain Abdullah wanted to return to football in 2012 http://t.co/ehXGGYdZxf
Inside the Super Bowl L, LI voting process http://t.co/gJNAuYBtjV
Greg Schiano says he's "not against" starting Mike Glennon (not that he's sending messages or anything) http://t.co/7ysQbU1aCQ
Larry Fitzgerald: 2012 was most frustrating season I've ever had http://t.co/tLi7abegPj
Jets' Mt. Rushmore may not have many recent faces, but nominate whoever you want http://t.co/ajfA4VxSIW
Report: Jets "really wanted" Brian Hoyer http://t.co/Ao9zESCFwt
Super Bowls L and LI to be awarded Tuesday; one goes to SF or Miami, the other goes to the loser or Houston http://t.co/D0L5vwgZ5a
Nick Saban: Rolando McClain was fair to the Ravens http://t.co/zyOOZwq4jZ
Idzik's 0-for-2 start to free agency has folks taking shots at Jets http://t.co/LCsYXn4G3K
Trent Richardson won't be prosecuted for assault that resulted in lawsuit http://t.co/TtPRdYJn95
Mike Gillislee signs with Dolphins http://t.co/TtGBaqYapK
For Giants rookie Cooper Taylor, heart issue a thing of the past http://t.co/QXBLXO82EE
Sunday morning one-liners http://t.co/e2rVRBsnzm
Six Seahawks have tested positive for PEDs since 2011 http://t.co/7aC15wrRzF
Stephen Tulloch gets motivation from reaction to his spot on top 100 list http://t.co/ZCOZag9dKY
Panthers' offense not necessarily Mike Shula's offense http://t.co/QSn0ZjvtaZ
Roof of new Vikings stadium is "self-cleaning," in the same way leaving a car in the rain makes it "self-washing" http://t.co/2KBOAh47jf
Tebow returns to Jacksonville, but not that way http://t.co/qtMwHrZJzI
Pre-draft Gronkowski injury concerns could be coming to fruition http://t.co/TIK4oaNR2s
League regards possibility of Haslam losing ownership of Browns as "unlikely," for now http://t.co/z99p9ZVuco
Nominate your favorite Patriots for their Mt. Rushmore http://t.co/2LEn8haG4F
Kyle Love passes physical in Jacksonville, with requirement that he receive treatment for diabetes http://t.co/kPef0I3CVc
Chargers announce Freeney deal http://t.co/0IpCbMtCgJ
Willie Colon thinks Jets will dump Mike Goodson http://t.co/fzlyCPJVf7
The signs are coming down at "Cleveland Browns Stadium" http://t.co/IemUrhVmiR
Talks between Cruz, Giants "moving slowly" http://t.co/UHdc7NdQCV
Chargers announce Freeney deal http://t.co/NoTDn3Wg55
Brandon Weeden "surprised" by Browns' decision to sign Brian Hoyer http://t.co/aRXrBkuJOJ
Good luck narrowing the Miami Mt. Rushmore to four http://t.co/NDHn8tIlXN
Eagles have asked Jason Avant to get some work at a new position http://t.co/oI5MJR5fbp
Titans mum on whether they knew about Fokou's DUI charge http://t.co/AHtxzi2mPP
Freeney's base deal surpasses Umenyiora's base deal by $250,000, with more in year one and bigger incentives package http://t.co/1zCQMhYQWX
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Sunday Night Football Headlines
- Manuel says Buffalo’s offense is easier than Florida State’s
- Chargers shielding Te’o from media
- Milliner makes new agent choice
- Gronkowski canceled Vegas trip
- Eagles move on from Maysonet
- Chris Cook doesn’t think Vikings will suffer without Antoine Winfield
- It’s Broncos’ Mt. Rushmore nomination time
- Report: Bills, WR Robert Woods reach deal
- Manning’s contract doesn’t change, league’s treatment of it does
- Brooks Reed healthy for OTAs after groin surgery
- Pro Bowl
- Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
- Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans
- Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
- San Fransisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
- San Fransisco 49ers at New England Patriots
- Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
- Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
- Green Bay Packers at New York Giants
- New England Patriots at New York Jets
- Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
- Houston Texans at Chicago Bears
- Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons
- New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
- Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans
- San Diego Chargers as New Orleans Saints
- New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
- New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens
- Detroit Lions at San Fransisco 49ers
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
- Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
- Super Bowl