Pass defense endures a few hiccups

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at The Baltimore Sun.

In the final tune-up of the preseason, the Ravens may have some tinkering to do with their pass defense.

The first unit surrendered 145 yards through the air in the team's 34-31 win against the Washington Redskins Thursday night and allowed a passing touchdown on an opponent's final possession of the first half for the second consecutive game.


"No coverage is perfect, and on occasion, they found the gaps, and on occasion, we made errors," cornerback Domonique Foxworth said afterward. "It wasn't up to the standards that we're used to or we expect around here. But it was a preseason game, so we can learn from it. And fortunately, we still got the win. So it was the best of both worlds."

The Ravens struggled against Rex Grossman, who backed up Donovan McNabb last season. Grossman connected on 8-of-15 passing for 112 yards and a 24-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Santana Moss with 51 seconds remaining in the second quarter.


On the scoring play, rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith appeared to shade to the receiver running an out to the left sideline. That freed up Moss to run a corner route to the rear right portion of the end zone, and Grossman lobbed a pass into Moss' hands before Smith or free safety Ed Reed, who was playing in the middle, could catch up.

"It was a miscommunication," said Smith, the club's first-round pick in April. "It's on all of us, but we didn't communicate. I took the wrong guy at first and then once I saw that two guys were on one, I tried to turn back and make a play, but it just didn't happen. It was bad communication."Former Raven John Beck completed just one pass on three attempts for 33 yards in the first half, but his 33-yard strike to wide receiver Anthony Armstrong down the right sideline kick-started a three-play, 70-yard drive that culminated in running back Tim Hightower's 37-yard touchdown scamper to give Washington a 14-0 advantage with 3:35 left in the first quarter.

"We had some communication issues on their two touchdown plays," defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said in comments distributed by the team after halftime. "We can't have that once the regular season comes. We had a chance to make some plays and get off the field, and we didn't make them."

Early in the contest, the Redskins appeared to target Foxworth, who – in his first start since 2009 – gave up the 33-yarder to Armstrong and a 14-yarder to Moss from Grossman.

"Obviously, I'd like to play better," Foxworth said. "I had a couple good plays and a couple bad plays. I need to eliminate those bad plays, but it felt good to be out there with the guys again."

Perhaps the most positive lesson from Thursday night is that it was just a preseason game, not the regular-season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 11.

"I think the defense is fine," Smith said. "We gave up a couple plays, but I think they were minor mistakes, communication problems. Nothing that can't be fixed. But overall, the Baltimore defense was physical and good."