Sunday, Dec. 10 1:00pm ET
Billick receives first Gatorade bath

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Baltimore Ravens began the afternoon with a salute to owner Art Modell. Three hours later, they marked their first trip to the playoffs with a more traditional ceremony: the Gatorade Bath.

Ryan Leaf
Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf was sacked twice and held to 78 yards passing Sunday in a loss to the Ravens.

Trent Dilfer threw two touchdown passes, and the Ravens took advantage of five turnovers to beat the bumbling San Diego Chargers 24-3 Sunday, clinching a spot in the postseason for the first time since Modell moved the team from Cleveland in 1996.

"At the beginning of the year we stood up and said, 'Anything less than the playoffs would be unsuccessful,' " coach Brian Billick said. "To stand up and be accountable that way and to live up to what you said you were going to do is sometimes undervalued.

"I'm happy for the organization. I'm happy for the city of Baltimore," said Billick, who received his first celebratory drenching as a head coach during the two-minute warning.

It was a team-record fifth straight win for the Ravens (10-4), who will probably begin the postseason at home in a wild-card game. It would be the first NFL playoff game involving Baltimore since the Colts qualified in 1977.

"We're not going to the playoffs just to play one game," declared defensive end Rob Burnett. "We're in the playoffs, but right now we have to keep the hammer down and stay focused."

Question on the Chargers: Did the rumors of Mike Riley's departure affect the Chargers?
Donahoe: The rumors of Mike Riley's departure probably had little if any effect on the Chargers today. Simply put, they were soundly defeated by a quality team. The Chargers have struggled all season running the football and today was no different. The Ravens' potent defense made it difficult for the Chargers to much of anything offensively. It will be interesting to see what happens in San Diego at the end of the season. There have been rumors that they will look for a new general manager, but key decisions must also be made regarding coach Riley and quarterback Ryan Leaf.

Question on the Ravens: What happened to the Ravens' offense in the first half?
Donahoe: The Ravens' offense struggled in the first half mainly due to turnovers. Trent Dilfer threw two interceptions and fumbled after a sack, which prevented Baltimore from getting offensive continuity early. In the second half, Dilfer and the Ravens settled down. Dilfer has been a pleasant surprise since he took over the starting job from Tony Banks, but sometimes he reverts to his old self -- not making good decisions and throwing the ball up for grabs. Dilfer's consistency will be a key for the Ravens in the playoffs and may well determine how far they go.

Tom Donahoe,'s NFL analyst, was formerly the Steelers' director of football operations.

San Diego (1-13) absorbed its franchise-record 13th loss. Ryan Leaf was 9-for-23 for 78 yards with one interception and a lost fumble.

"It's real frustrating for us, disappointing. Turnovers were the difference," Leaf said. "...It's a struggle of a season for everybody."

Before Sunday's game, Modell was honored for his 40 years as an NFL owner. Instead of introducing the offense or defense, the Ravens had Modell walk onto the field accompanied by team captains Shannon Sharpe and Ray Lewis.

"I wouldn't consider it under any circumstances unless we were in the playoff hunt," Modell said beforehand.

That quest is over. Modell now has a team in the playoffs for the first time since the Cleveland Browns made it in 1994. Before this year, the Ravens never had a winning season.

"I'm very happy for the fans. This is a football town starved for success," said Dilfer, playing his first season with Baltimore. "Getting to the playoffs is huge."

Billick, who forbid his players from talking about the playoffs in recent weeks, cheerily lifted the ban.

"One word, two syllables: Playoffs," Sharpe laughed. "It feels real good."

Baltimore went up 17-3 when Jamal Lewis scored from the 1 after the Ravens recovered a fumble by Terrell Fletcher at the San Diego 3. Dilfer then threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley after the Chargers botched a punt.

"We know they have a great defense and we didn't want to give their offense good field position," San Diego coach Mike Riley said. "We (gave up) 21 points worth today, and it's hard to make up that ground."

If there was one drawback for the Ravens, it was they failed to record their fifth shutout. A second-quarter field goal by the Chargers ruined Baltimore's bid to match the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers' modern-day record of five shutouts in a season.

"We want the shutout, but we can't get caught up in that. We need to win our last two games," safety Rod Woodson said.

The Chargers and Ravens each had three turnovers in a sloppy first half that ended with Baltimore up 10-3 despite allowing only 52 yards on 25 plays.

Baltimore held the ball for 17 plays and more than nine minutes on its opening series before Matt Stover kicked a 32-yard field goal.

San Diego's third giveaway, a fumble by Leaf at the San Diego 46, was disastrous for the Chargers. Qadry Ismail was ruled out of bounds on a catch in the end zone, but Baltimore appealed the call and a replay reversal netted the Ravens a 28-yard touchdown and a 10-0 lead.

Rodney Harrison's second interception and an 11-yard pass from Leaf to Freddie Jones produced a 47-yard field goal by John Carney late in the half.

Game notes
Chargers DE Adrian Dingle sprained his left knee in the first quarter and did not return. ... Lewis has four touchdowns in his last four games. ... It was the third two-interception game of Harrison's career. ... San Diego LB Deon Humphrey bruised his shoulder and missed most of the second half. ... The Chargers have 15 turnovers in their last three games.


San Diego Clubhouse

Baltimore Clubhouse


Shannon Sharpe Official Site