Bitter Sweet: RGIII goes down as ‘Skins pull out gritty win


mike_shanahan

Photo by: Rich Kane/Icon SMI

The Washington Redskins came from behind in stunning fashion to defeat the Baltimore Ravens behind some clutch play from rookies Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and Kirk Cousins.  The Ravens let this game slip away despite knocking RGIII out of the game and holding an 8 point lead with less then two minutes left in the game.  Sundays Washington Redskins (7-6) vs. Baltimore Ravens (9-4) match up pitted Washington’s versatile offense against the stingy Ravens defense.  Because of the close proximity of these two teams, this game is obviously billed as a rivalry and local bragging rights are always on the line.  But, this years match up definitely had an added sense of intensity and importance with the Redskins being in the hunt for a playoff spot and the Ravens coming in with a chance to clinch the AFC North.

The Washington Redskins came out red hot on offense, hitting on all cylinders on their first drive.  The Baltimore Ravens number one ranked red zone defense put up a fight on the goal line, but ended up ceding and giving up a touchdown on a third and goal play.  Robert Griffin III showed some nice poise as he kept the play alive scrambling to his right and hit Joshua Morgan for a four yard touchdown pass.

As efficient as the Redskins were on their first possession with a ten play, 80-yard touchdown drive, the Ravens wasted no time and struck with a five play, 81-yard touchdown drive.  The Ravens first drive was keyed by several huge runs including a 46-yard burst up the field by Ray Rice.  That 46-yard run was Rice’s longest of the season.

The Redskins offense continued to move the ball well against the Ravens on their second drive, keeping the Ravens defense on their heels with the play action pass.  RGIII completed a 21-yard pass to Josh Morgan who earned some tough yards and got the ball all the way to the 1 yard line.  Alfred Morris punched the ball into the end zone on the very next play, giving the Redskins a 14-7 lead.

After the teams traded punts, the Ravens came back on their third possession with another solid drive.  Flacco hit Anquan Boldin for their second touchdown connection of the day on a 31-yard pass.  D’Angelo Hall was beat over the top on the play although his safety help was drawn in on a pump and go on the opposite side of the field.

With the two offenses slowing down in the second quarter, the key play ended up being a fumble by Alfred Morris.  An already shaky ‘Skins defense was put into a tough spot as the Ravens took over the ball on the Redskins 14-yard line. Perry Riley was beat on third down for a 14-yard pass from Joe Flacco for a Ravens touchdown to Dennis Pitta, which broke the games tie and gave the Ravens a 21-14 lead.

Griffin went 10 of 15 in the first half for 180 yards and 1 touchdown holding up his end of the bargain and helping to keep the Redskins in the game.  Joe Flacco was only 7 of 10 in the first half, but threw 3 big touchdowns, including two to Anquan Boldin.  The Redskins went into the locker room down 21-14, and it was evident that their defense would have to buckle down in the second half and come up with some stops and turnovers in order for Washington to have a chance to win.

The fast pace set by both teams in the first half was all but gone in the second half as both defenses made key adjustments.  After the Ravens began the second half by repeatedly feeding Ray Rice the ball, D’Angelo Hall was penalized for a late hit against Torey Smith giving the Ravens continued momentum and a first down.  Rob Jackson turned the tide on the next play and ignited the crowd by beating Michael Oher and stripping Joe Flacco of the ball.  Jackson’s hustle was evident as he continued to push after the strip and recovered the fumble as well.

Though the Redskins drive stalled, they were able to get three points off the turnover as Kai Forbath continued his steady streak and hit a 48-yard field goal to cut the Ravens lead to 4, 21-17.  The Ravens had great success running the ball and took the ball down to the Washington 11-yard line on their following drive.  Joe Flacco threw an ill advised interception as Ryan Kerrigan was able to get his hand on the pass, which allowed London Fletcher to intercept the ball, the 21st of his career.

After the Fletcher interception, the ‘Skins continued to give the ball to Alfred Morris who has now showed in consecutive weeks that when he fumbles, he comes back even hungrier running with something to prove.  The Redskins settled for another field goal, with Kai Forbath converting on a 48-yard field goal to cut the Ravens lead to 21-20.

Late in the fourth quarter it seemed as though the Redskins would get a chance to get the ball back only down by one, but on 3rd down Anquan Boldin made another big play, catching a 28- yard pass and setting the Ravens up with a first and goal on the Washington 7-yard line.  Ray Rice converted the following play for a 7-yard touchdown and extended their lead to 28-20.

Facing a tough task and down by 8, the ensuing kickoff almost cost Washington the ball game.  Niles Paul took a big hit and coughed up the ball, which the Ravens recovered.  But, after the officials reviewed the play it was ruled that the ball was out of bounds when the Ravens recovered the ball, giving the Redskins life and a chance to drive down and tie the game.

After picking up 13 big yards and trying to find a way to slide down, Griffin III took a nasty hit from Haloti Ngata, which sidelined him for one play.  Kirk Cousins came into the game on an unbelievably tough third down play.  With the game on the line, Cousins threw in the direction of Garcon who drew a key pass interference call and extended the drive.  Griffin III mustered up the strength to come back into the game on the next play, but obviously was not at 100 percent.  RGIII connected on a clutch 22-yard pass play to Garcon to get the Redskins down in Baltimore territory, but continued to limp after the play and was barely able to make it down the field to get into the huddle.  Griffin III was forced to leave the game once again and the ‘Skins called on fellow rookie Kirk Cousins once more.

Cousins came in as cool as ever and was able to find Pierre Garcon for a touchdown in the back of the end zone to setup a potential game tying two point conversion.  Lined up in a spread shotgun formation, Cousins caught the Ravens (and probably most viewers) off guard and ran the ball up the middle on a planned quarterback draw.  This was a masterful call by Kyle Shanahan as most people were guessing that Cousins would have to pass the ball to convert the two point conversion.

In overtime, the Ravens got the first shot on offense but, Washington’s defense came up with a huge stop and forced Baltimore to punt.  Another rookie came up with one of the biggest plays of the game as Richard Crawford returned the ball 64 yards setting up the Redskins on the Baltimore 24-yard line.  Washington’s normal punt return specialist, Brandon Banks has been struggling as of the late and the coaches decided to sit him today, opening up an opportunity for Crawford and Niles Paul to contribute on special teams.  Kai Forbath converted on a 34-yard field goal in overtime to complete the unlikely come from behind victory for the burgundy and gold.

While the Redskins did get the win, the collective feeling after the game was one of nervousness as the severity of RGIII’s injury was initially unclear.  To RGIII’s credit, he kept the post game presser loose and even joked about the play that knocked him out saying, “I knew as soon as I got hit, I screamed.  Like a man, of course”.  Although RGIII was joking after the game and the MRI on his knee was negative, he will most likely have a lighter week in practice and need to be cautious moving forward.  The Redskins travel to Cleveland next week looking to push their win streak to five.  The Baltimore Ravens have a tough match up at home versus Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

Game notes:

Ray Rice finished with 20 carries, 121 yards 1 touchdown.

Alfred Morris finished with 122 yards and 1  touchdown.

Alfred Morris now has 6 – 100 yard rushing games this season.

Joe Flacco finished 16 for 21, throwing for 182 yards with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.

Robert Griffin III finished 15 of 26 throwing for 246 yards with 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions.

Kai Forbath has hit 14 of 14 field goals this season.

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