Let me get this straight.
Joe Flacco threw for three touchdowns.
Ray Rice carried the ball 20 times for 121 yards and a TD.
And the Ravens lost.
Yep, *that* happened today in Washington, where the Ravens defense collapsed late in the game for the second straight week and wasted a rare 28-point road scoring effort in an overtime loss to the Redskins that drops Baltimore to 9-4 on the season.
Last Sunday, it was Pittsburgh. Sunday in Washington, the Redskins beat Baltimore.
What’s next, the Orioles losing to the Yankees in the playof — oh, wait.
The defeat wasted a dominating defensive performance from Paul Kruger and Arthur Jones, who both produced their best games of the season and helped quiet wonder-rookie Robert Griffin III in the second half.
If only Kruger, Jones and the Ravens defense could have stopped some guy named Kirk Cousins when it mattered.
Cousins was a late replacement for the injured Griffin and threw an 11 yard TD over Ravens defensive back Chris Johnson with 0:29 left in regulation, then ran in the 2-point conversion himself to tie the game at 28-28.
That defensive meltdown was bad enough, but then the special teams unit got involved in overtime, surrendering a 64 yard punt return that set up the game-winning 34 yard field goal as Washington literally stole a game they had little business winning.
Sort of like the Ravens against the Patriots, Cowboys, Steelers and Chargers this season.
And as I wrote last week after Charlie Batch used smoke and mirrors to beat the Ravens in Baltimore, you’re going to find those “unconventional” wins like the ones produced by John Harbaugh’s team earlier in the campaign always have a way of evening themselves out by season’s end.
The Ravens, by virtue of both the Bengals and Steelers choking at home on Sunday, still maintain a comfortable two-game lead in the AFC North at 9-4.
But it’s not going to get any easier from here to the finish line.
Baltimore now faces Denver and the New York Giants over the next two Sunday’s, being forced, perhaps, to play those games without Terrell Suggs, who missed the shocker in D.C. with a torn biceps injury.
And with a late-game right ankle injury to starting right guard Marshal Yanda – who left the stadium on crutches – the Baltimore injury report is starting to look like a who’s who of missing-in-action.
There’s a saying in sports: “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” That’s the early-season philosophy you use to handle a loss or two when you still have plenty of time to recover and get yourself situated for a run at the post-season.
Well, now, with three weeks left, it’s looking a lot more like a sprint.
And the Ravens don’t have many guys left to do the sprinting.
Sunday’s meltdown in Washington will have a lot of players wearing the goat horns this week.
Despite a 28-point road effort, Joe Flacco will get blasted for a pair of turnovers, one deep in his own territory and the other on the Redskins 11 yard line. No one will mention Michael Oher getting beat like Neil Peart’s drum kit during the YYZ solo or Kelechi Osemele losing his man on the ill-timed pick in the 3rd quarter. It will just be, “Flacco sucks”, all week. And then, to make matters worse, the quarterback had the gall to stand up after the game and say stuff like, “We’re not going to let this crush us. We’ll go back to work on Monday and try to get things back on track for next Sunday against Denver.” (I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather hear him say: “Well, that should just about do it for us for the season. There’s very little chance we can rebound from these two debacles against the Steelers and Redskins.”)
Cam Cameron will be hammered all week, again, if for no other reason than everyone in town has their lines memorized from a season’s worth of frustration with the team’s offensive play-caller. Despite the fact that his quarterback threw for 3 TD’s and his running backs churned out 186 yards on the ground, he’ll get scrutinized like Charles Manson at a parole hearing.
John Harbaugh will get his share of blame. It was probably his call at the end of the 4th quarter to take a knee and head to overtime, even though he was armed with one time-out and the Redskins secondary had been woeful most of the afternoon. Naturally, had Flacco thrown a pass at the end that was picked off, everyone would have blasted Harbaugh for not just taking a knee. Sometimes, you can’t win as a coach, unless you win.
Cornerback Chris Johnson will get crushed, too. He was a liability on the game-tying drive, getting beat twice – including the Garcon touchdown with 0:29 left – and earlier being flagged for pass interference on a huge 3rd and 6 play. If you’re asking, “Who the hell is Chris Johnson, wasn’t he the guy in Fast Times at Ridgemont High?”, I would say to you: “No, that was RON Johnson. Chris Johnson is the guy who got beat by Kirk Cousins for the late game score at Fed Ex Field on Sunday.”
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees will face a thrashing or two, despite the fact his unit stepped up with a good second half and limited the Redskins to just one offensive touchdown. However – and you know the coordinators have to get beat up somehow, someway, it was once again the famous “prevent” defense that hurt Baltimore on the game-tying 85 yard drive surrendered to the Redskins, as Griffin and Cousins picked the Ravens apart in the middle of the field, like most teams have this season.
And anyone on the Ravens who tried to make a tackle on Sunday that wasn’t named Kruger or Jones should get lathered for their lack of tackling and toughness in the first half, when Washington’s Alfred Morris plowed through, around and over everyone in white.
It all added up to a most shocking loss in Washington, where the Ravens looked poised to claim their 2nd straight AFC North crown at the expense of their neighbors-in-state and in front of a huge following of purple fans who made the trip 40 miles south.
Instead of a playoff-clinching win, Baltimore handed a game away in stunning fashion.
What a week this is going to be in Charm City.
Someone better get the Ravens a new rabbit’s foot.
And earmuffs for the coaching staff and players.