BALTIMORE. -- In the end, the Los Angeles Chargers finally found a way to contain Lamar Jackson and the Ravens smash-mouth running attack.
Jackson had two fumbles and an interception in the opening half, and the Ravens never fully recovered in a 23-17 loss in the wild-card round of the AFC playoffs.
Even though the season is over, there is much work ahead for the Ravens in the coming months.
Veteran quarterback Joe Flacco has played his last snap for Baltimore, coach John Harbaugh confirmed. The veteran injured his right hip Week 9 against the Steelers, paving the way for Jackson to take over a starting role he never relinquished.
“Joe is going to have a market,” Harbaugh said. “I’m going to be in Joe’s corner unless we play him. He’s bet quarterback in Ravens history. He’s going to be fine.”
Other veterans, such as Terrell Suggs, Marshal Yanda and Jimmy Smith, also face an uncertain future. Suggs said he wants to continue playing, but was unsure about moving forward with the Ravens.
"I would love to be a Raven for life. I’m healthy, and I still feel like I have some juice in the tank," Suggs said. "I would love to be a Raven for life. We’ll have to see what happens. It’s a long time between here and March. So, we’re just going to enjoy it and hope we can work it out. If not, I’ll be lining up for somebody next year.”
There are also questions surrounding Harbaugh and whether he will commit to a long-term future with the franchise. Harbaugh said his plan was to remain in Baltimore.
"I have every expectation, every plan to be here as long as the Ravens want me here," he said. "I believe they want me here. I believe that has been made clear by them to me over the last few weeks. I do believe that is what they want to do and let's roll."
In addition, Eric DeCosta will take over as the general manager for Ozzie Newsome, who plans to remain with the team in an advisory role. Newsome was the only GM in franchise history and was the architect of two Super Bowls.
Baltimore hosted its first playoff game since 2012.
This time, Los Angeles could smell blood early and stayed conservative on offense for much of the game. The Chargers led 12-0 at the half -- in what appeared to be an insurmountable deficit.
The Ravens thought they cut the margin to 12-10 early in the fourth quarter when Melvin Gordon fumbled at the 3 and Marlon Humphrey ran the length of the field for a touchdown. Instead, Gordon was ruled down by contact and scored on the next play, increasing the lead to 20-3.
The Ravens offense finally woke up in the fourth quarter and they pulled to within 23-17 on a pair of touchdown passes from Jackson to Michael Crabtree. Baltimore got the ball back with 45 seconds left, but Jackson’s third fumble of the game ended any chance of a comeback.
"We just played like we didn't want to be here. I did, not my team," Jackson said. "I feel like I played poorly. I feel like there were a lot of things we could have done, I could have done to put us in a better position."
Jackson was 14 of 29 for 1952 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for a 78.8 passer rating.
While Jackson reinvigorated the offense when he took over the starting job for Flacco, he must become adept at throwing the ball downfield. Los Angeles simply put an extra defender in the box and dared the Ravens to win through the air.
Jackson could not deliver … at this point of his his young career.
He completed just 2 of 8 passes for 17 yards and had a 0.0 passer rating in the opening half. The Ravens had 69 total yards of offense over the opening two quarters -- the fewest for a playoff game in franchise history.
With Jackson struggling, Harbaugh kept veteran Flacco on the bench. That move will be questioned over the next couple of days. Harbaugh admitted that he considered playing Flacco, but decided to stay with the rookie.
"Everybody was on the same page with what we did ... including Joe," Harbaugh said.
In addition, Flacco might have also struggled against the Chargers' aggressive pass rush, which finished with seven sacks.
"I thought Lamar did a great job of just hanging in there," Flacco said. "You know, he gave us a chance to win."
Flacco also cherished his time with the Ravens.
"I love the people of Baltimore, man. It's been 11 years," he said. "The people warm up to you. You warm up to the people. I can't imagine a better 11 years. This place becoming my home and my children's home."