Bolts Roll Ravens, Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

The Chargers won their third straight game in dominating fashion, manhandling the Ravens in a 34-14 victory. It all went right on a day the Broncos, Raiders and wild-card leading Jets each lost, prying open the window for a last-ditch playoff push.

For the first time all season, the Chargers played a complete game against a quality opponent.

The offense was on fire, scoring on its first five possessions, including four touchdowns. Philip Rivers completed 17-of-23 passes for 270 yards and a score, hitting the 4,000-yard mark for the fourth consecutive season in the process. More importantly, he went his fourth straight game without an interception.

Malcom Floyd led all receivers with 96 yards and a score. He also caught a 19-yard pass that set up one of Ryan Mathews' two touchdowns. Vincent Jackson posted 84 receiving yards, 58 of which came on a key third-and-8 play on which he used a beautiful double-move to break free up the left sideline.

Mathews (90 yards rushing) went over 1,000 yards for the season. Backfield mate Mike Tolbert chipped in 58 yards from scrimmage and another TD as Norv Turner called a balanced attack that kept the Ravens scratching their heads all night.

San Diego's defense looked downright Raven-esque, posting seven sacks and two interceptions (Takeo Spikes and Shaun Phillips). Former Raven Antwan Barnes led the way with four sacks against his former team, giving him 11 on the season. Rookie Corey Liuget also got in on the action with his first career sack.

The two-way drubbing was evident on the stat sheet, as San Diego racked up more than 400 yards of total offense while holding the Ravens under 300. The Chargers also held more than an eight-minute edge in time of possession.

If the Chargers keep playing like this, they will be one of the toughest outs in the playoffs ... assuming they make it that far.

San Diego's best hope for making the playoffs is via the wild card, which means catching the Jets and Bengals. The Jets lost to the Eagles on Sunday and now lead the Chargers by one game; the Bengals beat the Rams to keep pace with New York.

The Chargers would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Jets and a three-way tiebreaker with the Jets and Bengals, but would win most other multi-team tiebreakers. The Raiders and Titans also sit at 7-7.

Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.


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