Yanda, offensive line have rough day

SAN DIEGO -- Rookie offensive tackle Marshal Yanda was displeased with much more than the Baltimore Ravens' 32-14 loss Sunday to the San Diego Chargers. Yanda, who started at right tackle in place of veteran Adam Terry, was far from satisfied with his individual performance. The Ravens allowed four sacks, and Yanda had his share of issues.

He was mostly angry about a personal lack of attention to detail, but didn't feel as if he was physically overwhelmed by an aggressive front seven headlined by flamboyant Pro Bowl outside linebacker Shawne "Lights Out" Merriman.

"I had too many mental errors out there," Yanda said. "I didn't feel like I was getting physically beat. I got beat around the edge a couple of times where I didn't get out of my stance. It's tough. I lost my focus."

Yanda was playing because Terry, who struggled last week during a 33-30 overtime loss to the Cleveland Browns, was dealing with an ankle injury, according to Ravens coach Brian Billick.

Quarterback Kyle Boller completed 21 of 33 passes for 191 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions, but the inadequate pass protection took its toll.

"It's always going to be part of the equation for a quarterback," Billick said regarding the pass-blocking breakdowns.

Overall, it was a rough day for Yanda, a third-round draft pick from Iowa.

"When the running back got hit for a 4-yard loss, that was on me," said Yanda, who learned he was probably going to start Tuesday. "The linebacker blitzed and I didn't have my eye on him. We needed to score.

"It's hard. You learn from the experience It doesn't matter if you're a rookie or not. You need to make that play."

DIRECTIONAL KICKING? After Baltimore built a brief 7-3 lead on running back Willis McGahee's 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, kicker Matt Stover booted it out of bounds at the Chargers' 7-yard line.

Billick said that wasn't an intentional gambit to avoid ultra-dangerous return specialist Darren Sproles one week removed from struggling against Browns return man Josh Cribbs.

"It was just a bad kick," Billick said.

San Diego wound up using the great start at its 40-yard line to propel a scoring drive capped by a 35-yard touchdown pass to tight end Antonio Gates.

"When we had come back and scored, it was a positive thing and we kick it out of bounds," Billick said. "We do something well and then we do something to leave ourselves short. If we can get rid of the latter, we might have a chance."

CONTAINING LT: The Ravens did a commendable job of holding All-Pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson to 77 yards on 24 carries.

His biggest outburst was a 36-yard run early in the third quarter that sent the reigning league Most Valuable Player over the 10,000 career rushing mark. He's the 23rd player in NFL history to hit that milestone.

Tomlinson became the fourth fastest player ever to rush for 10,000, accomplishing that feat in 106 games. He only had eight yards on 10 carries by halftime.

"They tried to get the ball to LT, and we knew they were going to try to get the football to LT," middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "Except for one run, we pretty much contained him."

Added Tomlinson: "It's 10,000 yards and it's been the benchmark for a lot of running backs in this league, but I never set out to get 10,000 yards.

"It was never a goal of mine. You get 10,000 yards, but that means you're getting older, too. With a milestone, they will pat you on the back, but they are ready to kick you out the door."

CELEBRATION: Rookie fullback Le'Ron McClain wasn't sure how to react after his first NFL touchdown on a 13-yard pass from Boller in the second half.

So, he threw the scoring football away.

Veteran tight end Daniel Wilcox reminded McClain of the significance of the moment and someone retrieved the ball for the burly fourth-round pick from Alabama.

"Oh, it felt good," McClain said. "This is like 10 times better than scoring in the preseason. This is like my first touchdown on the road since high school.

"I got it back. I forgot. I need that ball."

LIGHTS ON: One year after offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden shut down Merriman during last year's win in Baltimore with linebacker Bart Scott cracking afterward, 'Who turned the lights out?,' the former University of Maryland star delivered the last word Sunday.

He was credited with seven tackles, one sack and a forced fumble.

Unblocked, he body-slammed McGahee for a four-yard loss in the first quarter to set off a raucous response from a full stadium.

"One of my teammates came up to me and said, 'Look, go out there and play the way you are capable of playing, have fun with whatever you do, whatever makes you have fun with football,'" Merriman said. "To me, that was key for that to come from one of my teammates because they watch me and see me everyday.

"Regardless of whatever happens, we had to set the tone whether it was a big hit, a big play, an interception or something to set the tone. I think it was key or us to come out and start that way."

INJURY UPDATE: Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson left the game with a mild concussion.

McGahee hurt his foot, but returned to the game. It's not regarded as a serious injury.

Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister was scratched due to a knee sprain. He didn't practice all week and was expected to be a game-time decision.

"He just didn't feel like he could go," Billick said. "A player says they can't go, they can't go."

On a brighter note, cornerback Samari Rolle started and played the entire game after a three-game inactive period caused by an epileptic seizure.

"I felt sluggish at first," Rolle said. "Initially, that was expected. As the game progressed, I felt better."

Added Billick: "I think he played great. Just the fact that he's out there, it gets lost in this game sometimes. Huge admiration for Samari Rolle and for his passion for continuing to want to play."

INACTIVES: Tight end Todd Heap (strained hamstring) was deactivated along with quarterback Steve McNair (shoulder), safety Gerome Sapp (hamstring), wide receiver Demetrius Williams (high-ankle sprain), offensive tackle Jared Gaither (ankle), linebacker Edgar Jones and McAlister.

QUICK HITS: Lewis seemed unaware that this is the first five-game losing streak in franchise history. "No, it's not the longest losing streak of my career," he said. "I've been here 12 years and we've had some bad records. I've been 4-12, 6-10. So, it's not about a losing streak. It's about, 'What do you tell our young guys?' Bottom line, we have a lot of young guys playing for injured people." ... It was the Chargers' fifth win in seven games following a 1-3 start. ... Wide receiver Chris Chambers said that Rolle got caught looking on Philip Rivers' five-yard touchdown pass. "I think he read the eyes of the quarterback," Chambers said. "I think Philip may have pumped the ball or something like that. I kind of went behind him. It's kind of a broken play. He lost sight and Philip just threw a little lob pass, a real easy pass and we were able to get the touchdown."

5 REASONS FOR THE OUTCOME

1. The Baltimore Ravens looked absolutely dazed, confused and hopeless in losing a 32-14 rout to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium. The Ravens committed their 27th and 28th turnovers of the year after entering the game tied for 29th in the league in turnover margin. Both lost fumbles, one from quarterback Kyle Boller and another from running back Mike Anderson on a muffed kickoff, led to scores to create another six points for San Diego (6-5). It has been, several players and coach Brian Billick intoned, the story of the Ravens' horrid season.

The Ravens' fifth consecutive loss represents a new, unenviable franchise record with the longest losing streak in club history. The Ravens (4-7) haven't won a game since defeating the St. Louis Rams on Oct. 14. During this five-game skid, the Ravens have been outscored 143-72. Now, the Ravens have to face off Monday night against the mighty, merciless New England Patriots.

2. The Ravens' nonexistent pass rush aided the cause of typically struggling Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers as he manufactured the best game of his bad season. He completed 25 of 35 passes for three touchdowns and 249 yards with no interceptions for a 119.8 quarterback rating. His favorite target was Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates, who caught two touchdowns among his six receptions for a game-high 105 yards. The Ravens looked confused on defense, botching coverages on Gates with several miscommunications as he caught touchdowns from 35 and 25 yards. They just couldn't exploit Rivers, who came into the game leading the NFL with 17 turnovers. This was only his third game this year without an interception.

3. The Ravens' offensive line allowed quarterback Kyle Boller to be sacked four times, bashed into the ground several times. Despite Boller taking the hits and completing 21 of 33 passes for 191 yards, one touchdown and a respectable 89.3 rating, he didn't have sufficient time to throw often enough. And his touch was bad as usual on short throws.

4. The Ravens contained All-Pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson for the most part, but he eclipsed the 10,000 career mark with a 36-yard run early in the second quarter. He's the 23rd player in league history to reach that milestone. Tomlinson finished with 77 rushing yards on 24 carries, becoming the first opposing runner to outrush Willis McGahee (59 yards, 17 carries, one touchdown) this season. Tomlinson caught six passes for 45 yards.

5. The Ravens didn't do a good job blocking outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, the former University of Maryland star who sacked Boller once and forced a fumble that linebacker Marques Harris recovered to set up one of Nate Kaeding's four field goals.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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