Every week, blogger Matt Vensel breaks down a critical play, sometimes with the help of Ravens players, from that week's game. Today, he looks at Cam Cameron's final three-and-out as Ravens offensive coordinator.
You might have heard by now that the Ravens relieved Cam Cameron of his duties on Monday, firing the embattled offensive coordinator amidst his fifth season in Baltimore and replacing him with Jim Caldwell.
I was the last media member to ask Cameron a question in a podium setting (last Thursday, he interrupted my question about Ray Rice's workload to give what seemed like a prepared statement about how the offense needed to convert more first downs). Now I will be last -- and probably the first -- media member to break down his final drive calling the plays for the Ravens, a drive that perhaps fittingly ended with a three-and-out.
After the Washington Redskins drove 85 yards to tie Sunday's game, 28-28, with 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Ravens opted to take a knee and take the game into overtime, a decision that Ravens head coach John Harbaugh says was made by him.
The Ravens won the toss and started overtime with the ball at their 25-yard line. The offense either punted the ball or gave it away to the Redskins for much of the second half, but they had scored a touchdown on their last real possession of the fourth quarter.
On 1st and 10, Cameron called for a shot down the field.
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin was lined up wide to left. Torrey Smith was on the right. Tight end Dennis Pitta stood next to right tackle Kelechi Osemele. And before the snap, fullback Vonta Leach motioned from the left slot into the backfield to join quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice. After the snap, Flacco stuck the ball out for Rice but quickly pulled it back as he backpedaled in the pocket and planted for the throw.
Boldin and Smith streaked down their respective sidelines in an attempt to draw the attention of the safeties. Pitta shook free of a jam and ran straight up the seam, but he couldn't get separation from linebacker London Fletcher. Flacco threw it anyway to him, but it landed incomplete between three Redskins defenders.
On 2nd and 10, the Ravens attempted to get back on track.
The Ravens lined up in the same formation as their previous play and did the same pre-snap motion. But this time, Flacco handed the ball to Rice, who followed Leach between Osemele and Pitta for a four-yard gain. (Guard Marshal Yanda was injured on the run.)
On 3rd and 6, the Ravens were forced to throw the ball again.
For this play, wide receiver Jacoby Jones replaced the fullback and lined up wide to the right. Smith was on the left with Boldin in the slot next to him. Flacco was in the shotgun with Rice next to him.
Rice stayed in to block after the snap. The three wide receivers and Pitta ran vertical routes. Pitta hit the brakes at the 36-yard line and curled back, stopping just beyond the sticks. But that window quickly closed, and Smith and Jones could not get open on deep out routes, so Flacco tried to make something happen. He bumped into the back of one of his offensive linemen, spun around in the pocket then rolled to his right. Seeing that he only had one defender to beat, he ran toward the first-down marker, but he couldn't elude linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who tackled him after a three-yard gain.
Meanwhile, in the middle of the field, Boldin was running open across the Redskins logo and was waving his arms in the air. The Redskins had double-teamed him, but he shook free of them when Flacco started to scramble. It would have been a tough throw on the run -- especially for Flacco, who isn't exactly Robert Griffin III -- but it might have been a touchdown if Flacco had spotted Boldin behind the defense.
We all know how things went from there. After the three-and-out, the Redskins broke a big punt return and kicked the game-winning field goal. The decision to fire Cameron was made hours after the overtime 31-28 loss. He wasn't let go because of what happened between the white lines Sunday. But that final, failed drive was similar to many that we have seen from the Ravens offense this season -- three quick plays and gone.