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Ravens Make a Fourth-Quarter 'Statement,' Turn the Lights Out on Chargers


The Ravens' defense has been in this position before – dominant for most of the game, holding onto a perilous fourth-quarter lead, and then letting it slip away.

Baltimore's defense has undoubtedly been one of the best in the league this year, but in all three Ravens losses, that was the narrative. And it looked like they were possibly careening toward a fourth.

When Justin Tucker shockingly missed a 44-yard field goal with just under three minutes left, the Chargers needed only a field goal to tie and a touchdown to likely win. They had the ball at the 50-yard line.

When that drive started, leader Roquan Smith had a simple message to his teammates: "If they don't score, they don't win." For all the might of the Ravens defense, it had to prove it could close a game out.

Sure enough, Baltimore's defense turned out the lights on the Chargers, stuffing them with a turnover on downs and setting the offense up to ice the game with a Zay Flowers touchdown run.

Head Coach John Harbaugh called the Ravens' 20-10 victory a "big win," and a big reason was because the way Baltimore finished.

"I thought the fourth quarter was a statement," Harbaugh said. "We put an exclamation point on the fourth quarter."

"We've been in that position and not come out on the winning side more times than we've wanted in the past two years," safety Kyle Hamilton added. "it's on us at the end of the day. No matter what happened, in this moment right now in the fourth quarter, it's on us to get stops, and we did."

Flowers and Lamar Jackson got game balls from the "Sunday Night Football" crew in Los Angeles. But Jackson said he wasn't deserving. The credit for the Ravens' ninth win of the season goes to the defense.

"Our defense was playing lights out all night and we weren't doing what we usually do [which is] putting points on the board for those guys," Jackson said. "But I'm grateful that we have a great defense, because without them, I don't know how this game would have went."

After scoring at least 30 points in the previous five games, the Ravens had just 13 when Baltimore's defense trotted onto the field following Tucker's miss. Baltimore's offense struggled on third down (4-of-13) and for some reason kept stubbing its toe once it reached Chargers territory.

Time and time again, the defense stepped up. The Ravens forced a season-high four turnovers – three on forced fumbles by Smith, Patrick Queen, and Jadeveon Clowney.

Smith and Queen's were on back-to-back series in the first half, and Arthur Maulet picked off Justin Herbert's Hail Mary attempt at the end of the half. Clowney's halted a 19-play Chargers drive that had reached the 12-yard line early in the fourth quarter.

The Chargers have one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league, but Herbert threw 44 times for just 217 yards. Running back Austin Ekeler ran just 10 times for 32 yards.

Aside from all the stats, it was the Chargers' next-to-last series that sent the Ravens into the bye on top of the AFC and not stewing over another fourth-quarter defeat. And it was one play call that sealed it.

On fourth-and-6, Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald dialed up a cornerback blitz from Maulet. He was untouched and pounced on Herbert, who had no option but to throw it wildly incomplete for intentional grounding.

"I thought Mike was just tremendous in this game," Harbaugh said. "You can't call a better game than he did tonight."

Three plays later, Flowers took a jet sweep 37 yards to the end zone to put the Ravens up by 10. Hamilton, who had another excellent night with a couple tackles for loss, joked that the defense was salty it had to go back onto the field.

On a night when the defense carried the load, Hamilton wanted an early rest. Now he and the Ravens will get it over the bye, and they'll be feeling good about it.

"It's a good showing of where we're at as a team, how good we are, and also 9-3, those three losses, we feel like we could have won easily," Hamilton said. "So, it gives us something to work on still after the bye week. I know the goal is to get in the playoffs [and] get to the Super Bowl, but I think first seed gets a bye and home field advantage, right? I'm new, so I think that's the rule. That would be an added plus."

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