Oct 17, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown (5) carries the ball as defensive back Trey Marshall (36) tackles during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens shut down Justin Herbert, zap Chargers 34-6

The Baltimore Ravens played stingy defense in shutting down Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers’ dynamic offense en route to a 34-6 home win on Sunday.

Baltimore moved to 5-1 with the victory, while the Chargers moved to 4-2.

Entering Sunday’s contest, Los Angeles was averaging 28.4 points per game, but the Ravens held Los Angeles to just the six points and 208 total yards.

Herbert struggled to move L.A.’s offense against Baltimore’s suffocating defense, finishing 22 of 39 for 195 passing yards, with a touchdown and an interception. The Ravens held the Chargers to just 26 rushing yards.

Lamar Jackson didn’t fare much better statistically for the Ravens, completing 19 of 27 passes for 167 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. However, unlike the Chargers, Baltimore established the running game, finishing with 187 rushing yards against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL.

The Ravens scored first on a 12-play, 90-yard drive punctuated by a Latavius Murray 14-yard run with 5:17 left in the first quarter, putting Baltimore up 7-0.

After forcing Los Angeles into a three-and-out, Baltimore extended its lead to 14-0 on the ensuing drive, with Le’Veon Bell walking into the end zone untouched for a 2-yard score.

After a failed fourth-down conversion by the Chargers on their own side of the field, Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker made a 52-yard field goal for a 17-0 Ravens lead with just over seven minutes left in the half.

The Chargers were 1-for-4 on fourth-down tries on Sunday.

The Chargers finally got on the scoreboard in the second quarter. After a Kyzir White interception, Herbert found tight end Jared Cook in the back of the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown, cutting Baltimore’s advantage to 17-6.

L.A’s Tristan Vizcaino missed his league-leading fifth extra point this season.

The Ravens got a 9-yard touchdown reception from tight end Mark Andrews, another Tucker field goal — this one from 39 yards — and a Devonta Freeman 9-yard touchdown run to close out the scoring in the second half.

–Field Level Media

Oct 10, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (81) scores a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the second half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers WR Mike Williams active vs. Ravens

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams is active for Sunday’s game against the host Baltimore Ravens.

Williams, 27, declared himself good to go after testing his injured knee during pregame warmups. He sat out all three practices this week due to what coach Brandon Staley labeled as swelling in his knee.

The fifth-year wideout leads the NFL with six touchdown receptions. He also leads the team in receptions yards (471), while his 31 receptions are three shy of the club lead (Keenan Allen).

While Williams is active for Sunday’s game, the Chargers (4-1) ruled linebacker Drue Tranquill, quarterback Easton Stick, safety Nasir Adderley, running back Larry Rountree, offensive lineman Brenden Jaimes, tight end Tre’ McKitty and defensive lineman Forrest Merrill as inactive.

Tackle Ronnie Stanley, wide receiver Sammy Watkins, running back Ty’Son Williams, safety Ar’Darius Washington, linebacker Jaylon Ferguson and defensive tackle Broderick Washington are inactive for the Ravens (4-1).

–Field Level Media

Oct 11, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs with the ball past Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) chases during the third quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Duel of star QBs highlights high-powered Chargers-Ravens matchup

After five games, the Los Angeles Chargers (4-1) are the unlikely leaders of the AFC West, with the preseason favorites Kansas City Chiefs looking up at the Bolts in the standings at 2-3.

The Chargers will try to keep the team’s mojo going on the road against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. The last time the two teams met was in the wild-card round of the 2018 playoffs, a 23-17 win for Los Angeles at Baltimore, the last time the Chargers have been in the postseason.

L.A’s defense finished with a postseason team-record-tying seven sacks in that win over the Ravens. Sunday will mark the 13th time the two teams have met in the regular season, with the Ravens holding a 7-5 edge in the series.

The Bolts are clicking on all cylinders offensively, riding the rocket arm of second-year pro Justin Herbert. The University of Oregon product posted a career-high 398 passing yards and four touchdowns in an impressive, come-from-behind 47-42 win at SoFi Stadium last week against the visiting Cleveland Browns.

Herbert is fourth in the NFL in passing yards (1,576), tied for third in passing touchdowns (13) and has thrown just three interceptions in five games. Herbert’s top playmaker has been Austin Ekeler, who is No. 6 in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (543) and tops the league with seven touchdowns along with Tennessee’s Derrick Henry.

The Chargers are 3-1 in one-possession games so far this season. They were 5-7 in one-score games a year ago in 2020 and lost 16 games by eight points or fewer in 2019-20, leading to the offseason departure of former head coach Anthony Lynn.

“It shows us that we have belief to win any type of game,” new Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said about his team’s success in close games. “Any type of way teams want to play, we feel like we can play any style.”

Herbert and the rest of L.A.’s potent offense will have its hands full against what is normally one of the top defenses in the NFL in Baltimore.

The Ravens (4-1) are holding opponents to 23.4 points per contest, with wins this season over AFC West opponents Kansas City and Denver.

The only loss this season for Baltimore was a season-opening setback on the road in overtime against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Offensively, do-everything quarterback Lamar Jackson guided Baltimore to a 19-point comeback win over the Indianapolis Colts this past Monday. Jackson finished with a career-high 442 passing yards and four touchdowns, completing 37 of 43 attempts and earning AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his effort.

“It’s always about the next play in front of us,” Ravens defensive lineman Calais Campbell said about his team’s comeback win. “And we believe. When you create that kind of confidence, that kind of belief, it really builds that character you need to have a chance at the end of the year.”

Jackson leads the Ravens in rushing (341 rushing yards and two touchdowns). He has also thrown for 1,519 passing yards and eight touchdown passes.

The former league MVP ranks fifth in the league in passing yards and eighth in rushing.

“We have great defensive line coaches and edge coaches that are definitely going to work on a great game plan to be able to contain him — try to contain him as best we can,” Chargers cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said this week about stopping Jackson. “We had a great rush plan with [Chiefs QB Patrick] Mahomes [previously], and that helped us out. Hopefully, we can draw up another one with Lamar.”

On the injury front, receiver Sammy Watkins did not practice on Wednesday. Watkins left in the first half of Monday’s game due to a thigh injury and did not return. Also not practicing for the Ravens on Wednesday were tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) and linebacker Pernell McPhee (rest).

The Ravens placed guard Ben Cleveland on injured reserve, so he will miss at least three games. Cleveland was carted off the field Monday night with a knee injury.

For the Chargers, linebacker Drue Tranquill (chest) did not practice on Wednesday. Wide receiver Mike Williams (knee) also sat out team workouts.

–Field Level Media

Sep 12, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga (75) stands on the field during warmups prior to the Chargers' game against the Washington Football Team at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers RT Bryan Bulaga has core muscle surgery

Los Angeles Chargers right tackle Bryan Bulaga underwent core muscle surgery and a timeline for his return is still being determined.

Bulaga, 32, started the Chargers’ season-opening 20-16 victory against the Washington Football Team but played only 45 of 81 offensive snaps.

He was placed on injured reserve on Sept. 17 with groin and back injuries. He had the surgery on Tuesday.

A first-round pick by Green Bay in 2010, Bulaga has started 122 of his 126 career games with the Packers (2010-19) and Chargers.

Storm Norton, 27, has played every snap at right tackle since replacing Bulaga in Week 1. Norton has played in 12 games (seven starts) with the Vikings (2018) and Chargers.

The Chargers also placed starting right guard Oday Aboushi on season-ending injured reserve with a torn ACL suffered in Sunday’s 47-42 win against the Cleveland Browns.

Aboushi, 30, started all five games in his first season with Los Angeles. He has played in 70 games (47 starts) with the Jets (2014), Texans (2015-16), Seahawks (2017), Cardinals (2018), Lions (2019-20) and Chargers.

–Field Level Media

Oct 10, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (27) runs the ball against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Ekeler helps Chargers rally past Browns

Austin Ekeler scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns and the Los Angeles Chargers overcame a 14-point, second-half deficit to defeat the Cleveland Browns 47-42 on Sunday at Inglewood, Calif.

It was the third time this season the Chargers have come from behind in the fourth quarter to win a game.

Justin Herbert played spectacular and finished with a career-high 398 passing yards, completing 26 of 43 passes. Herbert threw four touchdown passes and no interceptions. He also ran for a score.

Down 42-41 with 2:02 left at Cleveland’s 48-yard line, the Chargers drove 48 yards on five plays, with Ekeler pushed into the end zone by the Browns’ defense at the 1:31 mark for their offense to have enough time to retake the lead. Ekeler’s run on the two-point conversion fell inches short.

On the ensuing possession, the Browns failed to get past midfield.

With the win, the Chargers improved to 4-1 on the year, while the Browns dropped to 3-2. The back-and-forth game had seven lead changes, including three in the fourth quarter.

The two teams combined for 1,024 total yards.

Mike Williams was Herbert’s favorite target, finishing with eight receptions for 165 yards and two scores. Ekeler posted 66 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and also recorded five receptions for 53 receiving yards.

Keenan Allen added six receptions for 75 yards on nine targets.

Chargers kicker Tristan Vizcaino missed two extra points on the day, including one wide left that would have tied the game at 42. Vizcaino has missed four extra points this season.

For the Browns, Cleveland running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined for 222 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Chubb finished with 161 rushing yards on 21 carries and a 52-yard touchdown, while Hunt added 61 rushing yards and two scores. The Browns averaged 6.6 yards per carry.

Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield also had a bounce-back game after a poor performance last week in a win over the Minnesota Vikings. Mayfield completed 23 of 32 passes for 305 yards and two scores. Mayfield did not throw an interception.

Tight end David Njoku led the Browns with seven receptions for 149 receiving yards, including a 71-yard run and catch for a score. Donovan Peoples-Jones added five receptions for 70 receiving yards.

Odell Beckham Jr. finished with just two receptions for 20 receiving yards on three targets.

–Field Level Media

Sep 12, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Joey Bosa (97) sprints down the sidelines prior to the Chargers' game against the Washington Football Team at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Chargers’ Joey Bosa fined nearly $29K for outburst

Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa received a $28,917 fine from the NFL for unsportsmanlike conduct toward officials during Monday’s 28-14 win over the Las Vegas Raiders.

Per the NFL Network on Saturday, the fine stems solely from Bosa’s on-field confrontation with officials late in the fourth quarter.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection took issue with what he deemed to be a missed holding call. His subsequent outburst resulted in a 15-yard penalty and first down.

Bosa, 26, didn’t hold back with his comments after the game.

“I didn’t even know they called the (expletive) penalty on me because I was fuming,” Bosa told reporters Monday. “But, I mean, refs are blind, simple. I’m sorry, but you’re blind, like open your eyes and do your job. It’s so bad it’s unbelievable.”

Bosa didn’t stop there.

“Fifteen yards, it’s a big deal,” he said. “Obviously that’s on me. I should never lose my temper like that, but these guys have got to do a better job because it’s been years of terrible missed calls left and right. It’s really pathetic, honestly, but pathetic on me too for doing what I did. Call or not, I have to take a step back and just go to the next play, but, man, they seem not to have their eyes open half the time.”

–Field Level Media

In this November 8, 2009 photo, Giants QB Eli Manning and San Diego Charges QB Philip Rivers come together at the end of the Giants 21-20 loss Sunday at Giants Stadium.

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Years later, Eli Manning talks about 2004 draft-day trade

After 17 years, a career that led to two Super Bowl victories and a place in the top 10 of a number of all-time quarterback lists, Eli Manning finally talked about why he didn’t want to play for the San Diego Chargers, the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2004.

“It was my decision having talked with my agent, coaches, [general managers] and owners,” Manning said on the “10 Questions with Kyle Brandt” podcast, which was posted Thursday.

“Going through the draft process, I was just worried about the Chargers organization at the time. I felt it was the right decision and I had a little pull. I quietly tried to say. ‘Hey, please don’t draft me, it can be our secret,’ and they didn’t keep the secret part of it real well.”

At the time, the Chargers hadn’t had a winning season in 10 years and were 1-15 in 2000 – the same season the Giants lost Super Bowl XXXV to the Baltimore Ravens.

The Chargers took Manning No. 1, then traded him within an hour to the New York Giants for No. 4 overall draft pick Philip Rivers and three future draft picks. Taken between them were Robert Gallery at No. 2 to the Oakland Raiders, who turned out to be a bust, and future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Many people long have speculated that Manning’s father, Archie, was behind the play to keep Eli out of San Diego. Eli said that wasn’t true.

“My dad just tried to take some heat off of me,” Manning said. “He knew I’d get criticized, he didn’t love the idea of it at first just because it was going to cause a lot of drama.”

The trade worked out for both teams.

Both Manning and Rivers are the all-time leading passers for their teams. Manning threw for 57,023 yards, Rivers for 63,440 yards in 16 seasons with the Chargers and one with the Indianapolis Colts. Rivers is fifth all-time in passing yards and Manning is eighth.

Manning was a two-time Super Bowl MVP; Rivers was named to the Pro Bowl eight times.

–Field Level Media

Sep 12, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) runs against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Browns take top rushing attack into L.A. vs. Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers stay home for a second straight week, hosting the visiting Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon in Inglewood, Calif.

The last time the two teams played was in Cleveland, a 38-14 victory by L.A. on Oct. 18, 2018. The Chargers have a 17-9-1 edge in the series and have taken three of the past four.

Like most NFL games, Sunday’s contest likely will be decided in the trenches, including what team will run the football most effectively.

Cleveland’s 1-2 punch of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt each have totaled more than 230 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground through four games. The Browns lead the league in rushing yards with 708.

The Chargers have struggled to bottle up the run this season, allowing nearly 140 rushing yards a contest, 29th in the NFL.

Leaning on the running game has been a strategy used by opposing teams to slow down talented pass rusher Joey Bosa and the rest of Chargers’ dynamic defensive front. In L.A’s only loss this season at home against the Dallas Cowboys, the Chargers allowed Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott to grind out a combined 180 of Dallas’ 198 rushing yards.

Edge rusher Myles Garrett leads the Browns defensively with six sacks on the year. And Cleveland’s defense has allowed just 66.5 rushing yards per game, No. 3 in the league.

“I see a good team and a great defense,” Chubb said, when asked by reporters his thoughts on the Chargers this week. “I see guys that have been winning, playing well and playing good. They look good on tape. They look good on paper. They look good all-around.

“They’ll be a challenge for us, going out west and playing on their home field. They’re playing hot right now.”

Under new head coach Brandon Staley, the Chargers are off to a good start, tied with the Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos atop the AFC West division at 3-1.

The leader of the top-ranked defense in the NFL last season as the defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams, Staley implemented a similar defensive scheme for the Chargers, with good results.

L.A.’s defense has allowed more than 17 points only once this season and has forced five turnovers in the past two games, placing the Chargers tied for sixth in turnover differential so far this season.

Staley has also brought an efficient, aggressive nature on fourth down, with the Chargers 4-of-5 (80 percent) on fourth down conversions this season. The Chargers were 12-of-25 (48 percent) on fourth downs in 2020.

“You can’t manufacture trust and belief in between the third and fourth quarter,” Staley said. “That has to happen Monday through Saturday. That’s what we’re trying to do around here. We’re trying to create that environment where Monday through Saturday, we’re creating that trust and belief system so that when these storms come, regardless of the quarter, you’re ready for them.”

Added Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert: “He believes in our offense just like we believe in each other. But being aggressive and using some of the data to our advantage is the best of both worlds. I think Coach Staley has done a great job of communicating with us. We’ve got a good feel for it and when we’re out there, we feel comfortable.”

On the injury front, everyone for the Chargers practiced on Wednesday. However, Derwin James (toe/shoulder), Chris Harris Jr. (shoulder) and Justin Jackson (groin) were limited.

The Browns had 11 players that did not practice on Wednesday. Garrett and Malik Jackson got veteran rest days. Cornerback Greg Newsome II has already been ruled out with a calf issue.

–Field Level Media

Oct 4, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws a pass against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dominant first half carries Chargers past Raiders

Justin Herbert passed for 222 yards and three touchdowns to help the Los Angeles Chargers notch a 28-14 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night at Inglewood, Calif.

Austin Ekeler accounted for two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) and had 145 scrimmage yards (117 rushing, 28 receiving) for the Chargers. Jared Cook and Donald Parham Jr. also caught scoring passes, Herbert completed 25 of 38 passes and Derwin James had an interception for Los Angeles (3-1).

Derek Carr connected on 21 of 34 passes for 196 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for Las Vegas. Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller caught touchdown passes for the Raiders (3-1).

The result created a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West between the Raiders, Chargers and Denver Broncos. The reigning division champion Kansas City Chiefs are last at 2-2.

The Raiders, who were averaging a league-high 471 yards of total offense entering the game, managed just 213 yards. Los Angeles gained 380 and had a 25-13 edge in first downs.

The start of the game was delayed for 35 minutes due to lightning strikes in the area.

After trailing 21-0 at halftime, the Raiders got on the board when they took the second half kickoff and drove 78 yards on 11 plays. Carr finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Renfrow.

The next time Las Vegas possessed the ball, it navigated 81 yards on six plays. Carr hit Waller with a 3-yard touchdown pass to pull the visitors within 21-14 with 1:44 left in the third quarter.

Daniel Carlson missed a 52-yard field-goal attempt for the Raiders with 10:38 left in the game. The Chargers capitalized and made it a 14-point margin with Ekeler scoring on an 11-yard scamper with 5:20 remaining.

James picked off Carr with 3:14 left as Los Angeles finished the impressive victory.

The Chargers dominated the first half, racking up 248 yards and 15 first downs while limiting the Raiders to 51 yards and one first down. In fact, Las Vegas racked up more penalty yards (53) than total offense over the first 30 minutes. The Raiders also had 0 total yards in the first quarter.

The Chargers scored on the first possession of the game, driving 75 yards on 12 plays in 6:59. Herbert capped it with a 4-yard scoring pass to Parham.

Los Angeles increased its lead to 14-0 when Herbert connected on a 10-yard touchdown pass to Cook with 4:16 left in the half. Herbert hit Ekeler with a 14-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds remaining to make it 21-0.

–Field Level Media

Sep 19, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Kenneth Murray (9) gestures after a play against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers place LB Kenneth Murray Jr. (ankle) on IR

The Los Angeles Chargers placed linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. and defensive lineman Justin Jones on injured reserve in advance of their Monday night home game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Murray, 22, injured his left ankle at practice Saturday, but is only expected to miss three games, NFL Network reported.

It is the third time Murray has injured an ankle since the start of training camp. He injured his right ankle in Week 2 against the Dallas Cowboys but returned to play in the game.

Murray, a first-round draft pick last year who is third on the Chargers with 19 tackles, is expected to be replaced Monday by Drue Tranquill.

Jones, 25, was thought to be close to a return from a calf injury in Week 1 against the Washington Football Team. Head coach Brandon Staley was confident Jones would be able to play against the Raiders as recently as Saturday.

Jones, a third-round draft pick in 2018, has started in 25 of his 41 games played over four seasons with the Chargers, recording 82 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks.

The Chargers signed defensive lineman Forrest Merrill off their practice squad and activated defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko off the practice squad.

Merrill, 25, was an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas State, who has not played in an NFL game. Fehoko, 24, played on 19 snaps over two games for the Chargers last season. He was undrafted out of LSU.

–Field Level Media