The shortcomings of the Ravens' short-handed secondary have been masked or overcome for much of the season.
But they were exposed by San Diego and quarterback Philip Rivers on Sunday, and this time it dealt Baltimore a bitter loss.
Rivers threw for a whopping 383 passing yards and three touchdowns in a 34-33 Ravens loss. Rivers completed 34 of 45 passes as the Chargers had little reason to run. They rushed just 18 times.
As the Ravens offense kept preserving the lead throughout the game – and even extended it to 10 points with six minutes, 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter – the Baltimore secondary kept giving it up.
"Give credit to the Chargers and especially Philip Rivers," Head Coach John Harbaugh said to start his press conference. "I thought he did a good job, obviously. He's a great quarterback, and in the end, that was the difference."
Rivers threw for 120 yards on the Chargers' final two drives alone, both ending in touchdowns. His 1-yard score to wide receiver Eddie Royal proved to be the game winner. The Chargers threw on every down of both drives.
The Ravens, who are playing without top cornerback Jimmy Smith for the fourth straight game, have given up a lot of passing yards and touchdowns since he went down. They have also been missing cornerback Asa Jackson (toe).
Baltimore surrendered 340 passing yards and six touchdowns to the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger the week after Smith went down. The Ravens then shook up the secondary by adding Gorrer and inserting Anthony Levine at starter, which was enough to contain Titans rookie Zach Mettenberger.
But the unit has struggled the past two weeks against two more Pro Bowl quarterbacks.
The Saints' Drew Brees posted 420 passing yards and three scores. Now Rivers joined the bunch with a big day. The 383 passing yards are a season-high for Rivers. He hadn't tossed for that much yardage since Nov. 24, 2013.
"We just didn't make the plays that we were supposed to make at the end of the day," Gorrer said.
"We've got to stop some of the mistakes that we're making because it's getting old. The same mistakes shouldn't be happening. We've put ourselves in this situation, so now we've got to fight our way out of it."
Chargers wide receiver Kennan Allen, who finished with 11 catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns, beat Gorrer with a double move in the fourth quarter. Gorrer took a quick step as if to break on the ball and Allen slipped behind him and twisted to make the catch on the sideline.
Levine was flagged for a critical 23-yard pass interference penalty that set the Chargers up on the 1-yard line with 46 seconds remaining in the game.
"It wasn't an off-game. We just have to compete," Levine said.
The Ravens tried everything they could to slow down Rivers. They mixed and matched coverages and players in the back end. Will Hill started again, but the other safety spot continues to rotate as Jeromy Miles saw the majority of snaps ahead of rookie Terrence Brooks and Darian Stewart. Matt Elam played mostly as the nickel cornerback.
The good news for the secondary is that Jackson is eligible to return next week in Miami. And after facing three Pro Bowl quarterbacks in the past four weeks, the Ravens will finish with Miami's Ryan Tannehill, Jacksonville rookie Blake Bortles, Houston's Ryan Fitzpatrick and Cleveland's Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel.
"I think we'll just keep fighting," Harbaugh said. "There are going to be games in this league. There's going to be points scored, especially when you play against a quarterback like [Rivers]. Those quarterbacks in this league are going to be tough to defend.
"We have the players to win. We have good enough players to win, and we have to go do it."