Los Angeles—Baltimore’s NFL-best defensive unit sparked an upset of the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday but the Tennessee Titans stayed level with the Ravens in the playoff chase by beating Washington.
Baltimore’s Tavon Young returned a fumble 62 yards for a clinching touchdown to spark the Ravens over the host Chargers 22-10 while Tennessee’s Blaine Gabbert, replacing injured starter Marcus Mariota, threw a touchdown pass to power the host Titans over the Washington Redskins 25-16.
Baltimore and Tennessee each improved to 9-6, the Ravens clinging to the last American Conference playoff spot thanks to a tie-breaker edge.
“We had to get this win. It’s a huge win to keep our playoff hopes alive,” said Ravens safety Eric Weddle, who likes Baltimore’s chances as a Super Bowl threat.
“Why not? If we get in the tournament we have as good a shot as anybody. I know nobody wants to see us.”
Justin Tucker’s third field goal, a 56-yarder, boosted Baltimore’s lead to 16-10 but the Chargers were driving for a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter only to be undone by Baltimore’s defenders, who have allowed the fewest yards and points in the NFL this season.
Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor knocked the ball from the grasp of Chargers tight end Antonio Gates and Baltimore cornerback Young grabbed the loose ball and returned it to create the final victory margin.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, whose 27-game streak with a touchdown pass ended, threw a final interception to end LA’s last hope.
At 11-4, the Chargers have already clinched a playoff spot but with the LA loss, Kansas City needs only a win Sunday at Seattle to claim the AFC West division crown.
Tucker field goals from 24 and 35 yards against a 38-yarder by LA’s Mike Badgley gave the Ravens a 6-3 halftime lead. In the third quarter, the Chargers scored on Melvin Gordon’s 1-yard touchdown run but Baltimore reclaimed the lead 13-10 on Lamar Jackson’s 68-yard touchdown pass to Mark Andrews.
– Titans outlast Redskins –
At Nashville, the Titans forced two Washington turnovers in the closing minutes, the last a 56-yard interception return by Malcolm Butler on the game’s final play.
Washington fell to 7-8 and must beat reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia next week to have any playoff hopes.
The Titans lost Mariota to a right shoulder injury after he was sacked in the closing seconds of the first half, the dynamic mobile run-pass threat sidelined after being slammed to the turf, forcing Gabbert to take charge.
Gabbert completed 7-of-11 passes for 101 yards and a 2-yard touchdown pass to MyCole Pruitt in the fourth quarter that put Tennessee ahead to stay.
“It was a lot of fun just getting back on the field with the guys,” Gabbert said. “Everybody just worked their tails off and we were able to get the win. It was a must-win game. We’re still alive.”
Tennessee’s Ryan Succop kicked a 42-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter to lift the Titans within 10-9 at halftime.
Washington’s Dustin Hopkins added a 40-yard field goal in the third quarter, Succop answered for the Titans from 33 yards early in the fourth quarter and Hopkins followed with a 46-yard field goal for a 16-12 Redskins lead.
That’s when Gabbert moved Tennessee 75 yards in seven plays, a march capped by his touchdown toss that with a Succop conversion lifted the Titans ahead 19-16 with 4:30 to play.
Washington’s Adrian Peterson ran 26 times for 119 yards and became, at 33, the oldest 1,000-yard rusher in an NFL season since Washington’s John Riggins in 1984. It was his eighth career 1,000-yard season, and first since 2015 and it moved him to eighth on the all-time NFL run yardage list.