We’ve heard it mentioned a few times tonight, but in case you have the television on mute, only one team in NFL history has endured a six-game losing streak and still gone onto make the postseason. That team was the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals.
The 2011 San Diego Chargers are trying to become the second team to do so.
Earlier today, both the Broncos and Raiders lost, leaving the door open for the Chargers in a tight AFC West. Still, a home matchup with the playoff-bound Ravens loomed, but through one half, the Chargers’ dreams of the postseason are still alive as they hold a 17-7 lead.
It’s been a solid showing on both sides of the ball for the home team. Philip Rivers is 11-of-15 for 170 yards through the air and has manufactured two touchdown drives of at least 70 yards. Running back Mike Tolbert punched in the game’s opening score with four minutes left in the first quarter, followed by a Nick Novak 45-yard field goal and a 1-yard scamper by Ryan Mathews in the waning minutes of the first half. The Chargers have just 20 yards on the ground, but haven’t needed to pound the rock with Rivers’ near-perfect accuracy.
Defensively, the Chargers are holding strong. The Ravens missed an early opportunity when kicker Billy Cundiff - who has struggled recently - missed a field goal attempt, but scored on their next possession on a Joe Flacco touchdown strike to tight end Ed Dickson. Running back Ray Rice does have 53 yards on only nine carries, but through 30 minutes San Diego’s defense has bent but not broken.
The Chargers will receive the ball to start the second half. Here are a few more numbers:
* The Chargers have 192 total yards, compared to 171 for the Ravens
* While only gaining 1.8 yards per rushing attempt, the Chargers are picking up 7.1 yards per play from scrimmage
* Time of possession is close, but San Diego leads, 15:39 to 14:21
* San Diego didn’t punt the ball and is three-of-four on third down conversions
* Vincent Jackson had two catches for 73 yards, highlighted by a 58-yard strike from Rivers which set up Mathews’ touchdown run
* Former Raven Antwan Barnes has the game’s only sack