BALTIMORE – The bubble that was the Baltimore Ravens season of hope with Lamar Jackson has burst.

The Los Angeles Chargers put the clamps on the rookie quarterback and left M&T Bank Stadium with a 23-17 victory that sends them to Foxborough for an AFC divisional matchup next weekend against the New England Patriots. Jackson mounted a late push to bring Baltimore within one score in the final minute, but Los Angeles recovered his third fumble on the day to secure the win.

The Chargers continued their roll as road warriors. Including a game in London, they are 9-1 away from Los Angeles.

Jackson, 21, became the youngest quarterback ever to start an NFL playoff game – but it didn’t spare him from being booed by the home crowd and for some to chant for Joe Flacco as he tried to rally the Ravens from the biggest deficit he’s faced all season.

Baltimore entered the game with a 6-1 mark since Jackson replaced Flacco at quarterback, but after averaging 229 rushing yards during that span were held to just 229 total yards. 

Three things we learned:

1. The Ravens sure could have used some points from their defense

The offense was a mess. At halftime, Baltimore generated just 69 yards to go with two turnovers and a near-turnover on a fumble that lost 14 yards. Jackson, forced to play from behind from the biggest deficit he’s faced all season, had a horrible day passing, and suddenly the pop that was once the Ravens’ vaunted rushing attack fizzled.

The limitations with the offense were so evident that the Ravens played with zero urgency after getting possession more than three minutes before halftime, when they let the clock trickle to the two-minute warning, never moved the chains and set up the Chargers for a hurry-up drive that netted a field goal. It was Baltimore’s worst nightmare as the No. 1-ranked defense kept the Chargers out of the end zone, but they still trailed by double-digits at the half. And even the opportunities provided by the defense – and a would-be TD return on a fumble (that wasn’t) – proved to be teases. After Baltimore deflected a punt and forced a turnover to end L.A.’s first two possessions of the second half, the Ravens could only convert that into three points.

2. The Chargers’ special teams aren’t as bad as they used to be

Remember when the Chargers had the NFL’s worst kicking game? Not now. Michael Badgley was perfect on four field goal tries in the first half – including a 53-yarder – to provide what proved to be the ideal cushion. He also nailed a 47-yarder in the fourth quarter.

It’s a far cry from the woes the Chargers had earlier this season and last season with the basics of making extra points and chip-shot field goals that influenced a revolving door with kickers … and probably cost L.A. a playoff slot last season. Badgley, a University of Miami (Fla.) product who is nicknamed “The Money Badger,” was signed off the street after Week 5 following a Caleb Sturgis quad injury. He’s solidified his status ever since.

Los Angeles still had other drama, though, on special teams. After Desmond King opened the second half with a 72-yard kickoff return, Badgley’s 41-yard field goal attempt was blocked. Then a Donnie Jones punt was deflected. In the past, those mishaps might have swung the game for the Chargers. Yet with the ineptness of the Ravens’ offense, that was not the case.

3. It’s tough to beat the Chargers twice

The Ravens clobbered the Chargers 22-10 in Week 16. But that was then. The experience from 15 days earlier may have solidified the foundation for L.A.’s defense in shutting down Baltimore’s offense. And the end result marked the third time in as many tries this season that L.A. has avenged a loss in the next meeting – getting payback wins against the Chiefs (Week 1 loss, Week 15 win) and Broncos (Week 11 loss, Week 17 win), too. In Baltimore’s case, it’s striking that Jackson had his lowest rushing game as a regular-season starter against the Chargers, with 13 rushes for 39 yards (deduct a 27-yard run and it was 12 rushes, 12 yards). On Sunday, he rushed for 54 yards – while running backs Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon combined for just 36 yards. On top of that, Jackson was sacked seven times on a day when the Ravens needed some juice from the passing game.

Follow Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.

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