It was the anatomy of failure for the Ravens' punt team, a costly breakdown at the most inopportune time.
Two minutes into overtime of a 31-28 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday at FedEx Field, the Ravens allowed a 64-yard punt return to Redskins cornerback Richard Crawford that directly led to a 34-yard game-winning field goal by kicker Kai Forbath.
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"We just didn't cover the punt the way we were supposed to," running back Anthony Allen said. "You can't give up plays like that. We didn't stay in front of him and he made a play."
Covering a booming 56-yard punt from Sam Koch that pushed Crawford back to his own 12-yard line, Allen streaked downfield and was the first one with an opportunity to make the tackle. However, Allen fell to the ground while reacting to a Crawford fake and never even touched him.
Crawford accelerated away from Allen, then reversed field up the middle to elude chasing linebackers Josh Bynes and Courtney Upshaw and cornerback Chykie Brown. He was finally corralled by a hustling Koch at the Ravens' 24-yard line.
"It was kind of like the Red Sea," Crawford said. "I ran out of gas. When I hit midfield, I was dead tired."
By then, the damage had been done. Four plays later, Forbath knocked in the decisive field goal to put the Ravens away.
"I saw it break out," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He was able to negotiate the first wave and cut back. There was not a cutback defender to take him."
One season removed from allowing three returns for scores, the Ravens have made major progress this season and were allowing only 6.3 yards per punt return to opponents entering Sunday's loss.
"Everything happens in a flash," Koch said. "The worst part is we've been doing so well. Ideally, the perfect punt would have been out of bounds. I tried to get it out, but it just didn't go wider."
On video of the play, long snapper Morgan Cox clearly gets blocked in the back by a Redskins player. However, no flag was thrown.
"I was running down there because I saw the alley he was coming," Cox said. "I saw a guy and turned my back and I went sliding forward. I could have been in better position. I got up looking for a yellow flag, but I didn't see any. I hate it. I wish I had gotten the call.
"We've done such an awesome job this year. This one hurts. To have that set up the winning play is pretty hard, but you move on."
Yanda, McClain injured
It was a painful loss for the Ravens beyond the frustration of squandering an eight-point lead in the final minutes of regulation.
Pro Bowl offensive guard Marshal Yanda sprained his right ankle badly enough that he was on crutches after the game and fitted for a walking boot. Yanda was in no mood for interviews and requested that reporters not approach him.
Yanda was replaced in the lineup by veteran Bobbie Williams.
"It's a big loss," Williams said. "Marshal is one of the toughest guys I know. Whatever it is, I'll take it and go. That's what I'm here for."
Starting middle linebacker Jameel McClain left the game in the second half with a neck injury and was replaced by Bynes.
Although X-rays were negative, McClain was in serious pain and dealing with swelling. He wanted to return to the game, but wasn't allowed to by the team. He's scheduled to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam Monday.