Lamar Jackson threw for 204 yards and had the longest touchdown pass of his brief career, and the Baltimore Ravens strengthened their chances of clinching a playoff spot with a 22-10 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday night.
The Ravens (9-6) — who have won five of their last six with Jackson as the starter — dominated for most of the night to remain in possession of the last wild-card spot. They could take over the top spot in the AFC North though if Pittsburgh loses at New Orleans on Sunday.
“I’m used to playing on big stages and people doubting us. I try to prove them wrong,” said Jackson, who completed 12 of 22 passes and had his first 200-yard passing game. “We can play with anyone. That was a great team. We can fight and everyone sees it now.”
Baltimore got a win against a Los Angeles squad that had already clinched a playoff spot with wins in 10 of its last 11. The Chargers’ loss, which drops them to 11-4, deals a big blow to their hopes of winning the AFC West.
“They played their game. We couldn’t get them off the field on defense. And we couldn’t stay on the field on offense,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “I thought the special teams played pretty solid this evening, but offense and defense, we got outplayed. We got outcoached. It’s just that simple.”
Baltimore briefly trailed 10-6 early in the third quarter before Jackson completed a 68-yard touchdown pass to Mark Andrews.
Justin Tucker’s third field goal extended the lead to six and they put it away late in the fourth quarter when Patrick Onwuaso forced Antonio Gates’ fumble and Tavon Young returned it 62 yards.
Jackson, who was the 32nd overall pick in April, had his first 200-yard passing game, completing 12 of 22. He had come into the game averaging 146.2 yards in the previous five games. Gus Edwards had 92 yards on 14 carries, and Jackson had 39 yards on 13 carries.
The Ravens’ defense, which came into the game as the top-ranked unit in the NFL, frustrated the Chargers most of the night. Philip Rivers — who was 23 of 37 for 181 yards — was sacked four times, threw two interceptions and didn’t have a touchdown pass for the first time this season.
Melvin Gordon, who missed the past three games due to a knee injury, had 41 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown.
Baltimore led 6-3 at halftime but the Chargers took the lead less than two minutes into the third quarter on Gordon’s touchdown from a yard out. The Ravens got the ball to start the second half but Chargers rookie safety Derwin James forced Kenneth Dixon’s fumble, which was recovered by Melvin Ingram at the Ravens 21 and returned 3 yards.
The Ravens quickly answered on the ensuing possession when tight end Andrews split safeties Adrian Phillips and Jahleel Addae, taking Jackson’s pass 67 yards. They made it 16-10 on their next possession on a 56-yard field goal by Tucker — his league-leading 38th field goal of 50-plus yards.
“We turned it over so it was up to us to go back down and score,” Jackson said. “It was play action. Mark got open and made a great catch.”
The Chargers got the opening possession but promptly turned it over when Rivers’ pass was intercepted by Brandon Carr on a throw intended for Mike Williams on the first play. The Ravens converted the turnover into three points on Tucker’s 24-yard field goal. The big play of the drive was a 43-yard run by Edwards — the longest rushing play the Chargers have allowed this season.
Baltimore made two more trips to the red zone in the first half, but could only muster Tucker’s 35-yard field goal. On the Ravens’ third drive, they got as far as the 2, but Jackson was incomplete on a pass intended for Michael Crabtree in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 3.
Los Angeles got to 6-3 late in the second quarter on Michael Badgley’s 38-yard field goal.
Ravens: Host Cleveland on Dec. 30.
Chargers: Travel to Denver on Dec. 30.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL
Follow Joe Reedy at www.twitter.com/joereedy