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Ravens offense still not in gear

The Baltimore Sun

Instead of getting its running game moving forward, the Ravens offense seemed to be going backward in Saturday night's weather-shortened, 13-7 loss to the Washington Redskins.

Before the game at FedEx Field was called early in the third quarter because of thunderstorms, the Ravens struggled to find rhythm on offense because of penalties.

The team's starting offense was flagged five times in the first quarter, including four times for false starts.

With the Ravens backed up most of the night, they couldn't get running back Willis McGahee on track for the third straight week. He finished with 12 yards on four carries.

"You have to get into a flow when you're running the ball," coach Brian Billick said. "We'll look at it and we have to run the ball more consistently. We did a couple of things in the second half, but we have to get better. It's tough when you get behind in the pitch count."

The Ravens appeared to be in reverse the entire game because of false starts from four different players: tight end Todd Heap, guard Chris Chester and tackles Adam Terry and Jared Gaither.

On their second series, they faced first down-and-20; on their third, they faced second-and-20; on their fourth, they had second-and-15.

By the end of the first half, the Ravens' offensive penalty yards (24) were double McGahee's rushing total.

The procedure penalties visibly upset Billick.

"That's something we've got to learn," Billick said. "Maybe we'll go on the same snap count. We'll just go on one every time."

When the Ravens didn't hurt themselves with penalties, they proved they could move the ball. They took a 7-3 lead with 9:40 left in the second quarter when quarterback Steve McNair hit Derrick Mason for a 6-yard touchdown.

The Redskins went back ahead 13-7 early in the third quarter when Ravens backup quarterback Kyle Boller had the ball knocked out of his hand when he was hit from the blind side. The ball landed in the hands of Washington linebacker Dallas Sartz, who ran 3 yards for a touchdown.

The game lasted 2 1/2 more minutes, ending with 11:38 remaining in the third period when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell cited safety concerns for players and fans.

It was the second time that weather factored into the game. The kickoff was delayed 71 minutes, also because of a thunderstorm.

Billick agreed with the league's decision to call the game.

"To take them back out there now - even if we could - just would be ill-advised," said Billick, who had never had a game canceled in his 15 years of coaching in the NFL. "The league works very hard to take care of the players and the fans."

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