Yet, the enduring images from the Ravens' 24-3 loss to the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field that was hyped as the battle for Beltway supremacy included a thick catalogue of mistakes. The miscues ran nearly the entire gamut of football ineptitude, and they began almost immediately in front of 70,460. "I'm not happy with the performance, it's the third preseason game," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "The defense's penalties and turnovers cost us. It was a bad performance."
Attempting to catch it over his shoulder two minutes into the first quarter, return specialist Lamont Brightful muffed the ball directly into the waiting hands of former Ravens wideout Patrick Johnson. Just like a series of untimely penalties the Ravens committed during the first half, this error led directly to points, a 30-yard John Hall field goal. Perhaps it was contagious, because virtually every unit of the Ravens became infected with uncommon lapses of judgment. The Redskins' first touchdown drive was a prime example.
Outside linebacker Peter Boulware intercepted a Patrick Ramsey pass off a Cornell Brown deflection, but the turnover was disallowed because of cornerback Chris McAlister being flagged for illegal use of the hands. Two plays later, linebacker Ray Lewis tackled receiver Laveranues Coles out of bounds to tack 15 more yards on to Coles' 15-yard gain for unnecessary roughness. First-round draft pick Terrell Suggs and Boulware jumped offsides simultaneously two plays later. The penalty was declined and Trung Candidate burst up the middle untouched three seconds into the second quarter for a 10-0 Redskins advantage.
Mirroring the trend of defensive penalties followed by the Redskins capitalizing, veteran defensive lineman Joe Salave'a got into the act. Salave'a collided with Ramsey helmet-first well after the quarterback had released the football for a roughing the passer penalty. On the very next play. Ramsey executed a flea-flicker to a streaking Coles for a 39-yard touchdown strike. Lewis recognized the gambit even before Chad Morton flipped the ball back to Ramsey and immediately began gaining ground rapidly on Coles. However, strong safety Ed Reed stepped on Coles' foot in the end zone and stumbled as the former New York Jets speedster corralled the arcing pass.
Boller directed a stalling offense that managed to play an entire half Saturday night converting only a few first downs. Even though the Ravens were limited to only a field goal in the first half, Boller did avoid interceptions with a conservative approach. He dumped it off five times to Jamal Lewis for 33 yards. The first-round draft pick passed for 101 yards on 14-of-20 accuracy and a quarterback rating of 81.5, but his longest completion was only 13 yards. His outing wasn't helped by the fact that Baltimore was limited to 12 rushing yards on seven carries in the first half for a paltry 1.7 average per carry. "We didn't establish the run in the first half," Billick said.
Perhaps the most encouraging signs Boller demonstrated was not getting flustered at the lack of opportunity to attack the Redskins vertically. Boller completed all seven of his attempts for 59 yards in an 11-play drive that lasted 4:15 to close the second half. On 3rd-and-9, running back Chester Taylor was tackled after a gain of five yards at Redskins' 6-yard-line. That set up the Ravens' only points of the game as Matt Stover kicked a field goal. Will Demps intercepted a Rob Johnson pass in the third quarter. Again, Baltimore couldn't take advantage of the opportunity, failing to score from the Redskins' 15-yard line.
Offensive tackle Damion Cook's false start was followed by three consecutive Redman incompletions, including a 4th-and-3 try intended for Taylor. Redman, who started six games last fall before aggravating a herniated disc that has been surgically repaired, completed 10-of-15 passes for 102 yards through three quarters. On a sack by former Ravens defensive tackle Martin Chase in the third quarter, Redman fumbled, but recovered the ball. He was also intercepted in the fourth quarter by Redskins third-string linebacker Clifton Smith.
Aaron Wilson writes for The Carroll County Times