Injuries to Willis McGahee and rookie Ray Rice made McClain the Ravens' only healthy tailback, but the second-year fullback did not disappoint.
On the offense's game-cementing 12-play drive in the fourth quarter, McClain carried the football 10 times for 43 yards. He opened the series with five consecutive rushes for 28 yards and ran five straight times for 15 more. His last gain, a 5-yarder off the left guard, preceded quarterback Joe Flacco's 28-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Derrick Mason with 3:35 left in the game.
Before his runs on that pivotal possession, McClain had rushed for just 16 yards on six carries, and he rumbled into the end zone from 8 yards out.
"I knew the position we were in and what we had to do," McClain said, referring to a then-precarious seven-point lead after Washington quarterback Jason Campbell found wide receiver Antwaan Randle El for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 11:27 left in the final period. "They just scored, and we wanted to come back like we've been doing. I was just thinking, 'First downs and then touchdown.' "
McGahee started last night after not playing in last week's 34-3 win against the Cincinnati Bengals and gained just 32 yards on 11 carries. He coughed up a fumble in the fourth quarter and suffered a shoulder stinger on the same play. Rice gained 31 yards on three carries, but he injured his left leg in the third quarter and did not return. "I didn't feel like there was any pressure because it was just my opportunity to step up," McClain said. "And I felt like I did that."
In addition to McGahee and Rice, kicker Matt Stover said he avoided serious injury when tight end Daniel Wilcox accidentally blocked Redskins safety LaRon Landry into Stover after he converted a 32-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Stover said he first thought he had broken his right ankle, but the initial swelling subsided. "I'm OK, but it was a little scary," he said.
Return specialist Yamon Figurs bruised his left knee after fielding a punt in the third quarter and did not return, but he said it wasn't serious. "I'll be OK," he said.
Turns out that running back wasn't the only position of change for the Ravens.Figurs, Ed Reed and Jim Leonhard each took a turn fielding punt returns during the first half. Leonhard called for a fair catch on one punt, returned one for 4 yards, and returned another for a modest gain in the second quarter, but it was negated by an illegal block in the back by Wilcox. Reed also called for a fair catch on a punt. Figurs - who, before yesterday's games, ranked 12th in the AFC and 22nd in the NFL with a 6.0 average on punt returns this season - returned one punt for 5 yards but bruised his left knee and did not return.
"We think we have some returners, as you know," coach John Harbaugh said. "We've got some guys who can get back there and do it. We've put some other guys back there this year, and that's always a possibility."
Terrell Suggs' sack of Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell early in the fourth quarter gave the linebacker 51 1/2 sacks for his career. That vaulted him past former Raven Michael McCrary (51) for second place in career sacks. Suggs trails only Peter Boulware, who registered 70 sacks between 1997 and 2005.
"It's amazing how when you don't aim for stuff like that, it kind of just happens," Suggs said. "I like to think of myself as a team player, and I don't try to shoot for individual goals, but the more I just keep playing hard for my team and Rex [Ryan], great things like that will keep happening."
After blocking a punt in a 36-7 win against the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks ago, Jameel McClain was at it again. The linebacker stretched out his right hand to get a piece of a Ryan Plackemeier punt on Washington's second series of the game.
The punt traveled just 21 yards to the Ravens' 44-yard line, but the Ravens could not take advantage of the generous field position and were forced to punt.
"It was a good job by everybody," McClain said. "I beat the snapper with a good move, and I got in there."
A week after being deactivated for the first time as a Raven, cornerback Frank Walker regained active status for last night's game. Walker said he was informed by the coaching staff Nov. 24 that he would be deactivated before last week's win against the Bengals in favor of cornerback Evan Oglesby. Last night, Walker was active, while Oglesby was inactive.
The Ravens also deactivated rookie offensive tackles Oniel Cousins and David Hale (ankle), wide receivers Terrance Copper and Marcus Maxwell (hip), tight end Edgar Jones and defensive tackle Lamar Divens (shoulder). Todd Bouman was the third quarterback.
Washington played without three defensive starters: cornerback Shawn Springs (strained calf), linebacker Marcus Washington (ankle) and defensive tackle Kedric Golston (ankle). DeAngelo Hall, acquired by the Redskins after he was released by the Oakland Raiders last month, started in Springs' place.
H.B. Blades replaced Washington, and Anthony Montgomery started for Golston. The Redskins also deactivated offensive linemen Jason Fabini and Chad Rinehart, defensive end Erasmus James and rookie tight end Fred Davis. Rookie Colt Brennan is the third quarterback.
The Ravens players doused quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson with Gatorade inside the locker room after the game. Jackson was the offensive coordinator and running backs coach for the Redskins between 2001 and 2003. ... Washington coach Jim Zorn's successful challenge of a McClain fumble midway through the fourth quarter was his first "W" in that category this season. Zorn is now 1-for-4 in challenges this season. ... Cornerback Samari Rolle, wide receiver Mark Clayton and Leonhard represented the Ravens during the coin toss. ... Jim Harbaugh, brother of the Ravens head coach and current head coach at Stanford University, stood on the Ravens' sideline last night, wearing a Ravens knit cap.
The Ravens sported black jerseys and white pants for the first time this season. ... With Todd Heap's 24-yard catch on fourth-and-one from the Redskins' 43 in the third quarter, the Ravens improved to 6-for-9 on fourth-down conversions. ... The Ravens are 8-1 when losing the coin toss the season. The Ravens lost the toss last night. ... Washington was the last current NFL franchise to visit the Ravens' home stadium.