"We have everything we need," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. "But, we can't play like that, and make the mistakes we made in this game and win the football game." (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
If the Ravens' season goes south from here, it will be easy to look back at one odd sequence from Sunday's loss to the Washington Redskins as the impetus.
In one play, the Ravens lost possession, a potential touchdown, a timeout and their starting inside linebacker. Trying to get in the end zone for the go-ahead score after intercepting Kirk Cousins, a lunging C.J. Mosley fumbled the ball through the side of the end zone. Mosley hurt his hamstring on the play, the Ravens needed a timeout to settle their defense and the Redskins turned the touchback into three points.
The 10-point swing doomed the Ravens, who were beaten 16-10 in front of an announced 71,318. The Ravens drove down deep into Redskins' territory in the final minute, but they couldn't score as Mike Wallace dropped a Joe Flacco pass on fourth down.
Three plays earlier, the Ravens thought they had scored the go-ahead touchdown but Breshad Perriman's 21-yard touchdown catch was reviewed and overturned when replays clearly showed he touched only one foot in bounds.
Their second straight home loss leaves the Ravens at 3-2, and distances themselves even further from their quality start.
Adding injury to insult, the Ravens lost top wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. to a foot injury, starting right tackle Rick Wagner to a thigh injury, Mosley to the hamstring and cornerback Sheldon Price to a thigh injury. Price started the game in place of struggling Shareece Wright.
Their status and questions about the offense and special teams will persist well into the week as the Ravens prepare for a road game against the New York Giants.
After a game-opening touchdown drive, the Ravens offense didn't come close to getting back in the end zone and had one streak of four consecutive three-and-outs. Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn't help matters by eschewing a relatively short Justin Tucker field goal in the second quarter to go for a fake. It was unsuccessful.
The Redskins took their first lead of the game when Cousins found Pierre Garcon in the left corner of the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown. Garcon had easily beaten Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith who got caught peeking into the backfield.
The Ravens took a 10-6 lead into halftime, but it easily could have been a more comfortable advantage. The Ravens outgained the Redskins, 181-109, in the first half and had the ball nearly eight minutes more than the visitors. The play was so lopsided in the first quarter that Washington ran only three plays. The Ravens ran 24.
For the first time since Nov. 30, 2014 in an eventual loss to the San Diego Chargers, the Ravens scored a touchdown on their first drive. Flacco engineered probably the team's prettiest drive all season, a nine-play, 75-yard march that ended with the quarterback hitting tight end Crockett GIllmore for a 7-yard touchdown.
Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman mixed things up on the drive as Flacco was 4-for-4 for 26 yards, and all three running backs – Terrance West, Buck Allen and rookie Kenneth Dixon – touched the ball at least once. West made the biggest play on the drive with a 35-yard run behind rookie Alex Lewis, who was making his first career start at left tackle, on 3rd-and-1.
But the Ravens couldn't seize on the momentum. Sam Koch's next punt was taken back for an 85-yard touchdown by Redskins return man Jamison Crowder, who broke out of a Zachary Orr tackle and easily breezed past Koch. The punt return touchdown, the latest issue for the team's previously reliable coverage units, was the second longest the Ravens have ever allowed. Dustin Hopkins missed the extra point, leaving the Ravens with a 7-6 lead.
The Ravens, relying on a nice run/pass mix, got the ball back and had another long drive, but it stalled inside the red zone. They settled for a Justin Tucker 31-yard field goal and a 10-6 lead.
They appeared primed to add to the lead when Orr shot the gap and thumped Redskins running back Matt Jones. Orr recovered the fumble on the Washington 15. But despite all the success the Ravens had in the running game to that point, they decided to pass on first and second down. West curiously then got the ball on 3rd-and-9, and was dropped for a loss of three.
Instead of going for what would have been a 34-yard field goal, the Ravens tried to run a fake with Tucker lining up as if he was a left-footed kicker. Tucker eventually took the pitch but his throw to Gillmore, who had gotten behind the Redskins' defense, hit off Josh Norman's helmet and was broken up.