Redskins Win Fourth Straight, Lose RGIII Against Reeling Ravens
The Redskins did the unthinkable. Not only did they win their fourth-straight game, they did it without the help of Robert Griffin III in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. Rookie Kirk Cousins picked up where Griffin left off, tossing a touchdown, and running for the two-point conversion to push the game into overtime.
A monumental stand by the Redskins defense, and a superb 64-yard punt return from rookie Richard Crawford put Washington field goal range.
Mr. Perfect, Kai Forbath, nails a 34-yard kick for the win! A huge win for the Redskins, but at what cost? How long will Griffin be out, assuming he is able to return at all?
Washington moves to 7-6, and within reach of the NFC East lead, while the Ravens fall to 9-4 and fail to secure their playoff spot this week.
Final Score (OT): Redskins 31, Ravens 28
This game, more than any other game for the Redskins this season, shows the importance of depth and preparedness. Crawford didn't know he would be returning punts until Friday. Cousins couldn't have predicted he would have to complete a comeback in Griffin's stead.
Forbath has only been on the roster for eight games, and was called on to win the game in overtime.
After Mike Shanahan made it seem like Washington would be evaluating the rest of the way, the Redskins have found the will to win under any and all circumstances with seemingly everything working against them.
Brandon Banks was inactive for today's game, and the overtime punt return from Crawford validates that move. Banks had totaled 178 yards on 26 punt returns on the season with a long return of 27 yards.
Crawford returned three kicks for 99 yards, including a long return of 64 yards, which set up the game-winning field goal. More importantly, he ran north and south and read blocks as opposed to running east and west, hoping speed will see him through the coverage.
Niles Paul had a heart attack-inducing kick return, where he took a hard hit and put the ball on the ground. Luckily, the Ravens couldn't get control of the ball before the player went out of bounds and the Redskins retained possession.
Garcon started hot, but disappeared for most of the second half before re-emerging on the final drive of the game, catching the touchdown pass from Cousins. The Redskins have had trouble getting production from their supporting cast of receivers, but Morgan, Hankerson and Moss made big catches in the second half that kept the Redskins offense moving.
Baltimore's defense showed up late, but not soon enough to keep the Redskins from coming back.
Reed was inexplicably absent for most of the game, which was apparent on Griffin's fearless throws over the middle. The front seven got solid push, getting to Griffin and dropping Morris a few times, but too little too late, and the secondary didn't help when plays broke down and Griffin improvised.
Griffin's injury may be the biggest story to come out of this game once everyone moves past the four-game winning streak. Not to be overlooked is the lack of Alfred Morris down the stretch. Royster was in the game on the final drive, and though Morris looked to be headed for a career-high in yards, he fell just two yards shy of his 124-yard best set last week.
Cousins made the Ravens defense look bad in his late game appearance. Baltimore's defense didn't pressure him, and when they got him outside of the pocket, their coverage broke down.
Flacco was held in check in the second half, throwing an interception compared to three touchdowns in the first half. Rice got solid work in the second half, but saw his yards per carry drop.
He picked up 66 yards on the first drive of the game, but just 55 yards on more than 12 carries in the second half.
Four straight wins, and the Redskins are back above .500 for the first time since they started the season 1-0.
Washington keeps their playoff hopes alive with the hard-fought victory, but how serious is Griffin's injury? Will he be out down the stretch or will he make another remarkable return to lead the Redskins the rest of the way?
Though the offense started the day hot, it was the defense and special teams that ultimately sealed the victory for the Redskins. Forbath's perfect day, and Crawford's huge punt return in OT were huge, and unexpected.
Cousins made two big plays to tie the score, and validates the third-round pick the Redskins spent on him in April.
Griffin's return is doubtful as the word on his injury is just a knee strain. He's walking on the sidelines, but he's not returning to this game. The Redskins hopes rest on Cousins now.
The Ravens win the toss and elect to receive, and the Redskins defense bottles them up on the opening drive of the overtime.
A field goal wins it for the Redskins, but Crawford takes the punt 64 yards well into field goal range. Barring a freak turnover, or the unthinkable Forbath miss, the Redskins will be coming away with a win.
14:49 remaining Overtime
A great completion on his return play is short lived, as Griffin is carried off the field on the very next play following an intentional grounding penalty. He is in serious pain, and Cousins comes back onto the field, likely to finish the game.
Cousins completes the comeback with a toss to Garcon in the front of the endzone, then follows it up with a designed draw that the Ravens did not see coming.
Touchdown and two-point conversion ties the score with overtime looming
Redskins 28, Ravens 28
With time winding down, the Redskins become a bit one-dimensional, needing chunks of yards and points in a hurry. Griffin can't find anyone open down field, and has to settle for intermediate routes that are blanketed by the Ravens.
Morris has been absent this quarter, and with the game on the line, you don't want to be leaning on Evan Royster to force the Ravens defense to respect the playaction.
Griffin is sacked, as the Ravens beat the entire right side of the line to collapse the pocket. A free rusher up the middle forces Griffin out of the pocket, where he picks up good yardage, but falls awkwardly and takes a brutal hit that hyperextends his knee.
Griffin to the sideline, and Kirk Cousins is on the field for the first time since Griffin was knocked out against Atlanta.
Cousins throws to Garcon, who has a defender all over him well before the ball arrives, and the Redskins get a first down. Griffin back onto the field after sitting out for a play recovering from the hit
1:42 remaining Fourth Quarter
On a third and short, Flacco finds Boldin on the left side, and he picks up the first down. The gain would have been less had Hall not decided to play two-hand touch with Boldin, who trotted for an extra 20 yards or so into the redzone.
Elementary from there, Rice sprints up the middle for a Ravens touchdown to extend the lead to eight.
Awful play by Hall, but if the Redskins lose, it is on their offense, which has done almost nothing in this half.
what in the world was deangelo hall doing there?— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) December 9, 2012
On the ensuing kickoff, Paul takes a big shot and coughs the ball up on the sidelines, and the Ravens appear to have recovered. After reviewing the play, it is ruled a fumble, but the Ravens did not recover, and the Redskins dodge a game-deciding bullet to retain possession.
4:47 remaining Fourth Quarter
Washington's offense fails to do anything, and it looks like Baltimore has caught on to the playaction pass. Griffin throws a pass low to Garcon that falls incomplete, ends the drive, and puts the ball back in Baltimore's hands after the 51-yard punt from Rocca.
Alexander comes up with a big hit on Jones on the return that halts his progress and gets the crowd all fired up.
The Redskins defense has come up big this half, but how long will it last?
8:47 remaining Fourth Quarter
Baltimore hands off to Rice, who gains two yards on two carries, bringing up a critical third down. Lorenzo Alexander makes a big stop short of the first down, and the Ravens have to punt once again.
The Redskins defense is coming up huge late in this game, just as they did last week. Now the offense has to get in the endzone to validate the strong second half showing from the Fletcher-led defense.
10:30 remaining Fourth Quarter
Morris is dropped for a three-yard loss, and Griffin is sacked on the next play for a seven-yard loss, pushing the Redskins back to their own four. The Ravens defense comes up huge, maintaining the lead and shutting Morris and Griffin down early.
Jones muffs the Rocca punt, but recovers before the Redskins can go after it. Niles Paul gets flagged for kick catch interference, but the replay shows that no contact was made, thus no interference. Baltimore gets flagged, and the penalties offset.
Off-setting penalties, holding on Ravens, catch interference on Redskins. Paul didn't touch Jones.— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) December 9, 2012
On the re-kick, Rocca nails and 52-yarder and Jones returns for nine yards across the 50 yard line.
12:19 remaining Fourth Quarter
Ed Reed has been absolutely invisible for the Ravens, doing nothing to bother Griffin on throws over the middle. Garcon has been invisible in the second half, but that speaks to the respect the Ravens have shown him after his 54-yard first half.
Washington's defense has stepped up off of the momentum from the Fletcher interception.
Chris Baker & Jarvis Jenkins combined to win at line of scrimmage. Stop Rice on gain of 1. #Redskins front looking to be more stout vs run.— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) December 9, 2012
Rice has 102 yards on the day, the majority of which came in the first half. Morris, on the other hand, has been a steady presence.
Baltimore's offense has failed to adjust to the Redskins defense, and Jordan Pugh comes off the left side to sack Flacco and force another punt.
14:47 remaining Fourth Quarter
Griffin wastes no time hitting Hankerson over the middle for 17 yards, which Morris follows up with a 17-yard run that puts him over the century mark for the third consecutive game.
With more than a quarter left to play, Morris could be on his way towards another career-high after the 124 yards he put up against the Giants last week.
Two more carries for Morris give him 115 yards on the game, making it all but certain he finishes the game with a new career-best. Can't say enough of about the sixth-rounder from little old FAU that has had a football program all of 11 years.
If you don't like watching Alfred Morris run the football, you're a silly goose. The rookie's got 115 yards on 17 physical carries today.— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) December 9, 2012
3:09 remaining Third Quarter
Bernard Pierce getting involved on the ground, picking up 52 yards on seven carries for the game. Pierce and Rice have already combined for over 150 yards rushing today, which has left the Redskins defense open for the big plays in the endzone.
The Redskins defense has suffered through poor safety play, and Williams has done nothing to help them, missing tackles and reacting slow in coverage.
Inside the red zone Jarvis Jenkins DROPS Rice in the backfield, bringing up third down. Flacco drops back, and Ryan Kerrigan comes untouched off the right side, forcing a bad throw that London Fletcher leaps at and somehow comes up with the interception!
Tremendous play by Fletcher!!
Ryan Kerrigan pressured and hit Joe Flacco, forcing an errant throw that London Fletcher intercepted. Kerrigan's got 2 big pressures.— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) December 9, 2012
5:35 remaining Third Quarter
Washington's offense can't get going, and are forced to settle for a field goal. Points are points, and the Redskins have confidence in Kai Forbath, which they did not have in Graham Gano last season or Billy Cundiff earlier this season.
Forbath splits the uprights from 48 yards out, and the Redskins pull within four early in the second half after proving they can stop the Ravens offense when necessary.
Redskins 17, Ravens 21 ; 10:27 remaining Third Quarter
Rice getting involved early, picking up 17 yards on his first three carries of the half. On an incomplete pass over Torrey Smith's head, Hall lays an unnecessary hit on him and draws a 15-yard penalty. More unprofessionalism from Hall.
Rob Jackson burst off the right side, and drops Flacco who DROPS THE BALL! Jackson recovers following the scramble, and the Redskins take over with great field position.
Excellent play after the bone-headed play from Hall.
Rob Jackson making plays for the second straight week. Big sack vs. Eli. Now forces Flacco fumble. #RedskinsTalk— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikCSN) December 9, 2012
11:27 remaining Third Quarter
The story of the second half will be how the Redskins defense adjusts the Ravens passing game. Hall has had no luck handling Boldin, particularly on deep routes.
Rice wasn't necessary in the second quarter, so expect him to get touches in the second half as the Ravens will try to extend their lead and keep the RGIII and Morris on the sideline.
The Redskins need to limit their second half penalties to keep their hopes alive, and keep from sputtering on offense, as well as giving the Ravens free yards.
At halftime, the Ravens are up by a touchdown, set to receive the second half kickoff. Washington's offense has 259 yards, but the Ravens got a short field on their third touchdown of the half following the Morris fumble.
Morris was unstoppable in the first half, but Rice wasn't needed with the Redskins defense giving up everything through the air.
The turnover and the sack the Ravens have on the Redskins have been the difference in this game. Otherwise, it has been balanced game, more offense than defense, which is uncharacteristic for these two teams meeting every so often.
#Redskins made adjustments and did better job on Ray Rice in running game in 2nd quarter. MUST get more pass rush on 3rd down.— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) December 9, 2012
Griffin comes out firing to start the drive, hitting Santana Moss deep down the left side, but the pass hits him in the chest and falls incomplete. A penalty gives the Redskins a first down, but they give it right back with a false start from Paulsen.
Baltimore's defense turns up the pressure on third and long, forcing Griffin out of the pocket, where he somehow picks up five yards with Ravens defenders on his heels, but he is dragged out of bounds short of the first down.
The Redskins give the ball back to the Ravens offense, where they will take over with two timeouts remaining. Baltimore looks comfortable taking the lead into hafltime.
0:37 remaining Second Quarter
Washington's defense stepping up with the Ravens offense backed up in their own territory. A pair of penalties backs the offense up, and with a touchdown lead, the Ravens seem content to play it safe and hand off to Rice to get some space before a shot down the field.
Third and 17, and the Ravens settle for a screen to Pitta for 11 yards to bring out Sam Koch for the second time today.
Solid stand by the Redskins, but it doesn't matter if the offense can't get points out of their finals drive of the first half. With two minutes and no timeouts, this drive could be another defining moment in Griffin's career if he can lead the offense on a pivotal drive.
2:00 remaining Second Quarter
The Redskins offense looks to make up for the fumble on the last drive, and opens their drive with a confident five-yard run from Morris, and a 28-yard completion to fullback Darrel Young.
Washington is flagged for yet another penalty, the fifth of the game, this one a holding call on Paulsen.
A 17-yard catch and run to Garcon gets most of the yardage back, but Kyle Shanahan's first cute play of the game, a fake up the middle to an option outside is fumbled, and Morris is dropped for a loss.
Rocca's second punt might have pinned the Ravens inside the 10 if the coverage unit had stopped it before it reached the endzone.
3:44 remaining Second Quarter
Washington's defense yields the touchdown on the short field, and Flacco throws his third touchdown of the first half. The Redskins have to rebound with a touchdown drive or risk giving the Ravens an even bigger lead if their defense continues to underwhelm.
Flacco has just seven completions, three have been for touchdowns, making Rice's five touches a non-issue.
Dennis Pitta's touchdown catch was his 5th of the season and his 2nd in three games. #Redskins have allowed nine to opposing TE's.— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) December 9, 2012
6:36 remaining Second Quarter
The Redskins offense doesn't get a chance to work before Morris fumbles, and Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger scoops it up for the turnover.
It is difficult to see a rookie doing so many things right fumble like that in back-to-back games, both deep in his own territory. It might be too much to ask the Redskins defense to hold the Ravens to a field goal, but they stepped up last week against New York.
9:30 remaining Second Quarter
Rice has slowed since his 63-yard opening drive, but the Ravens offense has benefited from Redskins penalties, including a neutral-zone infraction and an encroachment penalty. The penalty gives them the first down, and Flacco wastes no time making the Redskins pay for it.
Flacco pumps, freezes the safety and finds Boldin in the endzone once again for the touchdown. He's two-for-two on touchdown throws to Boldin.
Hall can't keep Boldin under wraps, and it could be the difference in this game when all is said and done. A rare shootout brewing in FedEx Field.
Redskins 14, Ravens 14 ; 13:44 remaining Second Quarter
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