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Game Recap: Redskins 31, Ravens 28

Posted Dec 9, 2012

Baltimore was up by eight points in the fourth, but fell to the Redskins in overtime, 31-28.


Just two weeks ago, the Ravens were lauded for finding ways to win after a comeback victory in San Diego.

They didn’t put up the best numbers, but they won.

For the second straight week since that game, however, Baltimore lost a matchup that it felt it should have packed away. And a fourth-quarter collapse once again kept the Ravens from clinching a playoff berth and the AFC North division crown.

The Ravens had the Redskins down eight points with about five minutes left in regulation. They knocked out phenom rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.

But the Ravens failed to finish again and were handed a 31-28 overtime defeat against their local rival Washington Redskins at FedExField.

“I think we should have won this game,” outside linebacker Paul Kruger said. “It’s just a killer.”

It’s the Ravens’ first back-to-back losses since 2009. They drop to 9-4, but are still ahead in the AFC North by two games because the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals also posted losses.

Now the Ravens will have to rebound from another stinging defeat. Last week it was to Pittsburgh’s third-string quarterback Charlie Batch. This time, Redskins rookie backup Kirk Cousins nipped them.

All three Ravens units played well at times, but ultimately each one faltered down the stretch.

Baltimore’s defense surrendered a 13-play, 88-yard touchdown drive and a game-tying two-point conversion on the Redskin’s final drive of the fourth quarter. The offense went three-and-out in its only overtime possession, and committed two costly second-half turnovers. The special teams unit allowed a 63-yard punt return in overtime that set up a game-winning, 34-yard field goal.

It all started going downhill after the Ravens took an eight-point lead on a 7-yard touchdown run by running back Ray Rice 4:52 remaining.

“Game’s not won until that clock strikes zero,” said Rice, who ran 20 times for 121 yards and a touchdown.

“The state of our team is to get better. It’s to find a way to win games when they’re close like this. When you’ve got a team beat, when you’ve got a team up in that kind of situation you’ve got to put them away.”

Baltimore recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, which seemingly would have sealed the game. But after review, it was deemed that receiver David Reed was out of bounds when he pulled in the ball. The reversed call gave the Redskins new life and a shot at a game-tying drive in the final minutes.

Washington started driving behind RGIII, but he took a massive hit while scrambling from Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata that left him gimpy.

That knocked the second-overall draft pick out of the game for a key third-and-6, which fell incomplete. A flag came in, calling cornerback Chris Johnson for pass interference and giving the Redskins a fresh set of downs.

RGIII re-entered the game limping badly on a sprained right knee. That didn’t stop him from completing passes of 15 and 22 yards that put the Redskins at the 16-yard line. After being called for intentional grounding, RGIII was pulled from the game.

In jogged Cousins, the Redskins’ fourth-round rookie backup quarterback who had only thrown nine passes in his NFL career. Cousins completed a 15-yard pass over the middle, then found wide receiver Pierre Garcon wide open for an 11-yard touchdown on third down.

It came down to a two-point conversion, and Cousins ran it in himself from 2 yards out to tie the game at 28 and send it to overtime. Safety Ed Reed said the Ravens saw the play coming, but still didn’t stop it.

Overtime didn’t last long.

The Ravens won the coin toss, but went three-and-out on their first offensive possession.

Punter Sam Koch boomed a punt 56 yards that was fielded by third-string returner Richard Crawford. He hit a large hole for a 64-yard return to Baltimore’s 24-yard line, setting up the game-winning field goal.

Baltimore’s punt coverage unit entered the game allowing the fourth-fewest yards per return (6.3) in the NFL.

“We’ve done a good job all year on the punt team getting guys to the ball in their lanes,” safety Sean Considine said. “We picked a bad time to not get that done.”

The game was a shootout early that turned into a defensive battle in the second half.

The Redskins marched 80 yards on 10 plays for a touchdown on their first drive. Washington running back Alfred Morris, who finished with 23 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown, started with a 29 yard run and RGIII hit wide receiver Josh Morgan for a 4-yard touchdown.

The Ravens responded with a touchdown in just five plays. Rice ran for 46 yards, setting up a 19-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin to tie the game.

Washington came right back to score on a 1-yard touchdown by Morris to retake the lead at 14-7.

Washington had 186 yards of offense in the first quarter, the most of any team in the NFL this year. The Ravens defense was struggling early on to figure out Washington’s complex option offense.

“I think we were playing just a little bit timid at the very beginning of the game,” Kruger said. “As soon as we got the flow of the game going after that first drive, I thought we played pretty good.”

After each team was held to an uncharacteristic three-and-out, the Ravens drove 77 yards for their second touchdown. Flacco hit Boldin in the end zone again, this time from 31 yards out, to tie the game at 14.

The Ravens got a break on the ensuing series as the ball slipped out of Morris’ hands deep in Redskins territory. Kruger scooped it up and returned it to the Skins’ 14-yard line, and Flacco punched it in with his third touchdown pass of the day, a 14-yarder to tight end Dennis Pitta that gave the Redskins a 21-14 lead at halftime.

Flacco had just two touchdown passes in the previous three games, but notched three in the first half Sunday. He threw for 127 yards in the first half and completed 10 of his 13 passes, operating more out of the no-huddle than in previous games.

“We feel like we moved the ball well the whole game,” Pitta said. “We just had some mistakes, whether it was penalties or turnovers that really hurt us. I think that’s what’s most frustrating about this loss. We feel like we were executing the ball, but we were shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Turnovers plagued the Ravens once again in the second half, as they did last week against Pittsburgh.

The Ravens marched to midfield, but were halted on a sack/strip. Tackle Michael Oher was beat around the edge by linebacker Rob Jackson, who slapped the ball out of Flacco’s hand. The Redskins recovered and turned it into three points on a 48-yard field goal.

Facing a third-and-6 from Washington’s 11 on the next drive, linebacker Ryan Kerrigan came clean on an all-out blitz with the Ravens in a four-wide formation. Flacco didn’t get the ball out fast enough, and it fluttered out of his hand and was intercepted by linebacker London Fletcher.

“It was my fault,” Flacco said. “I got enamored with trying to get Ray [Rice] something over there. It was my fault. You’ve got to get the ball out of your hand.”

The Redskins once again turned it into a field goal, this time for 49 yards by Forbath to cut the Ravens’ lead to 21-20 heading into the fourth quarter.

That score held midway into the fourth quarter as the Ravens pinned Washington deep into their own side of the field and wouldn’t let them out.

While RGIII completed 10 of his 15 passes for 180 yards in the first half, a banged-up Ravens defense without linebacker Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain (who suffered a neck injury) clamped down for two straight three-and-outs.

RGIII finished 15-of-26 for 246 yards (66 in the second half) and ran seven times for only 34 yards.

The Ravens offense came up with a huge drive midway through the fourth quarter.

Pierce got it going with an 11-yard hurdling catch-and-run. Then a gain of 28 yards to Boldin on third-and-4 set up Rice’s 7-yard touchdown run to give them the eight-point lead.

But that was the end of Baltimore’s good times, as the burgundy and gold had a lot more to cheer about than the groups of purple at FedExField down the final stretch.

“It was a hard, tough and disappointing loss,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “But we are not going to be disheartened.”


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