Chargers keep Jackson bottled until late, hang on to advance

BALTIMORE — The Los Angeles Chargers‘ primary goal on defense on Sunday was to bottle up explosive Baltimore Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson.

They did it very well for three-plus quarters, sacking him seven times as Los Angeles built a 23-3 lead, then hung on to win 23-17. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the seven sacks tied a franchise postseason record; the Chargers also recorded seven sacks in the 1992 AFC wild-card game against the Chiefs. All seven sacks happened with the Chargers rushing four or fewer pass-rushers, their most in any game since Week 16 of 2012 against the Jets.

Jackson engineered a couple of touchdown drives to make the score close. The Ravens got the ball back with 45 seconds to play down six points with no timeouts, but the Chargers forced another Jackson fumble, this time by linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, and Melvin Ingram recovered to seal it.

It capped a monster day for the Pro Bowl defensive end. Ingram added seven tackles, two sacks, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble.

Rookie kicker Mike Badgley was responsible for most of the scoring tally, setting a franchise record by making five field goals, including a long of 53 yards. However, Badgley did have a 41-yard field goal blocked.

With the win, the Chargers advance to the next round of the postseason and travel back east again, this time to face the New England Patriots next Sunday in the AFC divisional round. The last time the Chargers played New England in the postseason, they lost 21-12 on Jan. 13, 2008, at Gillette Stadium. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers played with a torn ACL that game.

The Chargers last faced the Patriots in the 2017 season, losing in Foxborough, 21-13. The Chargers are 14-22-2 all time against New England and 1-2 in the postseason.

Los Angeles came up with an interesting scheme to slow Baltimore. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the Chargers used seven defensive backs on every defensive snap. They did so only 5 percent of time in the regular season.

With the usual defensive playcaller, linebacker Jatavis Brown, out for the season after suffering an ankle injury last week, the Chargers replaced him in the lineup with starting safety Jahleel Addae and brought in second-year pro Rayshawn Jenkins to play deep safety for Addae.

The lineup change proved effective, as Jackson looked uncomfortable for the first 45 minutes of the game. On the Ravens’ first 10 possessions, they totaled 74 yards and three first downs.

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