It was an eventful week, all right, and it ended with Lewis and the Ravens beating the punchless San Diego Chargers 24-10 on Sunday.
“You can’t imagine how big of a win that was,” coach Brian Billick said, adding that he would have taken some heat had the Ravens lost. With Isabel approaching the East Coast, the Ravens flew to San Diego on Wednesday, two days earlier than originally scheduled.
“That was the smart thing to do,” Billick said. “There was no other way to handle it.”
With the exception of cornerback Chris McAlister being suspended and sent home for reportedly breaking curfew, the Ravens treated their extended stay in sunny San Diego as a business trip.
A week after setting the NFL single-game record with 295 yards on 30 carries, Lewis ran for 132 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries.
Lewis also fumbled at midfield late in the first quarter, but the ball bounced a few yards ahead and fullback Alan Ricard picked it up and ran 50 yards for a touchdown.
Lewis needed 182 yards to break O.J. Simpson’s two-game record of 476 yards set in 1976.
Lewis irked Tomlinson during the week by saying Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis was going to dominate the Chargers’ star running back.
Tomlinson, the NFL’s second-leading rusher last year with 1,683 yards, had a season-high 105 yards on 23 carries and scored his first TD in three games. He also had eight catches for 51 yards.
Afterward, Jamal Lewis took aim at San Diego’s defense.
“I think as we kept going and kept hitting them, it was knocking it out of them,” Lewis said.
After he scored on a 7-yard run late in the third quarter to make it 24-3, “they were done,” Lewis said of the Chargers. “They stopped getting penetration, stopped coming off the ball. It showed they are not a good second-half team.”
The Ravens (2-1) won their second straight. San Diego (0-3) has been outscored 88-37 this season. Including their second-half collapse last year, the Chargers have lost seven straight and 10 of 12.
The game was mostly a tedious defensive struggle until the Ravens scored twice in the third quarter to put it away.
Rookie quarterback Kyle Boller struggled some, but tight end Todd Heap helped bail him out by reaching over cornerback Quentin Jammer to pull in a 25-yard touchdown pass with three minutes left in the quarter.
Tomlinson scored on a 2-yard run midway through the fourth quarter to pull the Chargers to 24-10.
Boller threw for just 41 yards in the first half and 98 overall, completing 12 of 21 passes, with one touchdown and one interception. Brees was 28-of-45 for 270 yards, with no touchdowns and three interceptions.
With the Chargers trying to cut into a 14-point deficit with more than four minutes left, Brees was picked off at the Ravens 3 by Ed Reed. Gary Baxter had a pickoff in the end zone on a tipped pass with 53 seconds to play.
San Diego continued to struggle inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. The Chargers moved from their 22 to the Ravens 11 on their opening drive, but Brees ran a QB draw on third-and-goal, gained only 5 yards and they had to settle for Steve Christie’s 24-yard field goal to cap a drive that took 15 plays and 8 minutes, 36 seconds.
“I have no answers,” Tomlinson said. “Obviously something is going on. I don’t know.”
It was San Diego’s first lead in three games, and it didn’t last long.
Four plays into the ensuing Ravens’ drive, Lewis took a pitch, gained 3 yards and fumbled as he went down. The ball bounced to Ricard, who beat the Chargers’ defense for his first TD of the year.
“Luckily he had my back,” Lewis said. “I jumped up like the play was called for him and watched him run. I didn’t know the big dude could run like that.”
Matt Stover kicked a 49-yard field goal as the first half ended for a 10-3 lead.
The Chargers have trailed by at least 20 going into the fourth quarter of every game. Still, coach Marty Schottenheimer said he thinks the team is getting better.
“All I know is that we are improving week by week,” Schottenheimer said.
Chargers WR David Boston was back after missing last week’s game with a bruised heel. He caught six passes for 91 yards, but refused to speak with reporters afterward. … Chargers CB Sammy Davis sustained a concussion and TVaughn Parker sprained his left knee.