Baltimore Ravens 24 Washington Redskins 10
December 7, 2008
The Ravens shell shocked the Washington Redskins, grabbing an early14-0 lead that they never surrendered, while holding on for a 24-10 victory.
The talk before the game centered on the fact that the Redskins were making their first a regular season trip to Baltimore since 1978. After the game, fans were talking about the Ravens first win on the national stage since before the 2006 season, snapping a seven-game losing streak.
When it’s the national stage it’s usually Ed Reed who shows up in the spotlight. That has never been truer than Sunday night against the Redskins. Within the first three and half minutes the Ravens had bolted to that 14-0 lead, largely thanks to Reed. He made a finger tip interception of a Jason Campbell pass that Terrell Suggs redirected after a hit on Campbell setting up the Ravens first score. And then it was Reed again who stripped the ball from Clinton Portis at the end of a run, scooping up the loose ball, and slipping his way 22 yards for the team’s second touchdown.
In between, the Ravens’ Jameel McLain partially blocked a Ryan Plackemeier punt. It was an uncharacteristic fast start for the Ravens on a very cold night. By the time the Redskins seemed to thaw out, the Ravens had established a strong upper hand.
It was the Ravens turn to commit turnovers in the second half to allow Washington to climb back into the contest. The Redskins’ LaRon Landry intercepted a Joe Flacco pass at the Ravens 31 to lead to Washington’s first points, a field goal. And it was Landry again who speared the ball loose out of Willis McGahee’s hands to set up the Redskin’s only touchdown, pulling them to within 17-10.
From there, however, the Ravens displayed a newly acquired trait under Cam Cameron, grinding-away fourth quarter minutes by allowing Le’Ron McClain to run behind Lorenzo Neal and a young, energetic offensive line. The Ravens chewed up nearly eight of the remaining 11:27 minutes of the game on a 12-play, 83-yard drive that was visibly anguishing to the Redskins coaching staff and offensive players marooned on the sideline. McClain used the first 11 carries to drive the Ravens down the field before Derrick Mason used a double move, with no safety over the top, to haul in a floating, 28-yard touchdown pass from Flacco.
It gave the Ravens’ offense bookend drives, to start and finish the game. In between, the offense sputtered against a strong Redskins secondary. But no matter, it was the Ravens defense that did most of the damage for the night, and they receive top honors in this game.
Joe Flacco was not as bad as his numbers suggest. He was 10 of 21 passing the ball, for 134 yards, one touchdown and one interception. A number of his early throws were either dropped by receivers, or resulted in Joe throwing the ball away. After throwing a crisp ball to Mason to start the game, he misfired on his next six throws. But he was also helped by receivers when fluttering passes to Heap and Mason were hauled in for completions. Wind might have been a factor.
Running Backs: B-
Willis McGahee played poorly. Not just the eleven carries for 32 yards, but also a couple of fumbles—one lost—and a dropped pass. He later left the game with a shoulder stinger, but he was not effective before the injury. Ray Rice showed great elusiveness on a draw, faking out Landry to stretch the run for an extra seven yards to set up the Ravens first score. McClain ran hard but had difficulty finding holes until the final drive.
Wide Receivers: C+
Ravens receivers had difficulty getting open against a tough Redskins secondary, and were only able to catch five passes on the day. But they seemed to make the most of their catches for long completions, averaging 16 yards a catch. Mark Clayton chipped in with a nice 12-yard run for a first down.
Tight Ends: B+
Although Todd Heap only had two catches on the night, they were strong, dramatic plays. First he showed great body control on a Flacco pop-fly for a thirty-yard completion. Later he executed a nice trick play on fourth and one, pretending to fall down before sliding out to the flat for a 24-yard completion. Dan Wilcox blocked well as the second tight end.
Jared Gaither and Willie Anderson were very impressive engulfing pass rushers one-on-one. They were able to control the Redskins’ defensive drive blocking and used slip blocks to push defenders off the play. On multiple occasions the Ravens inserted Adam Terry and used a three-tackle unbalanced-left formation, with mixed results.
Interior Line: A-
The interior line was most effective on the opening drive and the final scoring drive. All three were getting a strong push up the middle. Jason Brown was engaging well at the second level. The Ravens used Ben Grubbs to trap to their right more frequently than in past weeks. Chris Chester had a very solid level 2 block to spring Ray Rice on his 21 yard scamper on the Ravens’ first possession.
Fabian Washington was outstanding. He showed tremendous recovery speed on a couple of deep throws. He also closed quickly on throws in front of him and tackled effectively at times although there remains room for improvement. Samari Rolle also patrolled his half of the field effectively. Corey Ivy was effective in the nickel role.
This was a showcase game for Ed Reed, with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Jim Leonard was an effective blitzer, tying up Campbell to allow Ray Lewis to vulture one sack. He also tag-teamed with Tom Zbikowski on at least one occasion to hurry Campbell’s throw. Leonard was very active in run support.
Bart Scott played very well for the most part, hitting run gaps hard and covering receivers out of the back field. He did get caught in the wash on one occasion to allow the Redskins to run for 11 yards on a third down call. Campbell did most of his damage (218 passing yards and a touchdown) throwing underneath when Ravens linebackers were just a step slow in coverage. Jarrett Johnson got strong push against the pass. He lost outside contain in one over-aggressive series to allow a first down run. Ray Lewis was in on a team-high 13 tackles. Ravens linebackers were at their best in screen coverage, swarming quickly to the ball.
Defensive Line: A-
Terrell Suggs harassed Campbell all night long. He controlled the runs to the left and wreaked havoc with tipped balls and quarterback pressure. Trevor Pryce was too quick for the interior of the Redskins line. Haloti Ngata seems to be getting quicker as the season progresses. Justin Bannan was able to get penetration into the backfield on a few occasions. Brandon McKinney stood up the guard on running plays a number of times.
Special Teams: C
The team is still inconsistent in covering kicks and maintaining field position. Penalties by Jameel McClain and Dan Wilcox also pushed the Ravens into poor field position when fielding kicks. McClain did beat Albright to partially block one punt. Haruki Nakamura nearly got to a second. Sam Koch punted well, including a nice rugby-style punt to the Redskins ten. Yamon Figurs did a poor job following blocks on returns. Coach Harbaugh appeared to be visibly upset and Figurs was not seen from again, with Reed and Leonard assuming his duties. Matt Stover kicked a 32-yarder in windy conditions to give the Ravens a 17-0 lead. He limped off when a Redskins player was blocked into his ankle, but came back to kick an extra point.
Cam Cameron made some genius calls to surprise the Redskins. That included a third and ten from Washington’s 30 where he spread the field and called a draw to Rice. He used trickery on fourth and one, with Heap pretending to stumble before slipping out for a 24 yard catch. Judging from John Harbaugh’s reaction to the play, excitedly running over to Samari Rolle on the sideline, it appeared that Rolle may have had a hand in the call. It was also a brilliant call in the fourth quarter to run McClain eleven times and then throw over the top when the Redskins switched to zero coverage with their safeties pulled into the box. Cam did have trouble cracking the Skins defense in the middle quarters. Washington seemed to adjust well to Rex Ryan’s pressure schemes and was able to do damage against over-aggressive play on the Ravens part. For the most part, however, Ryan was able to keep Washington’s offense on their heels. Credit John Harbaugh for having his team prepared to come out fast. And for his decision to switch out of the all-black uniforms in favor of the more appealing black-over-white look.
Terry McCauley’s crew got the important calls right. They did make a ticky-tack call on Ray Lewis for pass interference right after they failed to grant pass interference when Mark Clayton was run over by a defender. It seemed a bit inconsistent.
John Madden made a couple confusing statements, but also provided some nice insights. He had obviously done his homework on the teams. The replays were plentiful, which is what is to be expected with so many cameras and a national game. Aerial shots of Baltimore made the city shine.
All eyes should be on Baltimore again next week when the Steelers come to town, with the Division title on the line.