With another playoff appearance on the horizon, the Baltimore Ravens went into Landover, MD to face the Washington Redskins in the Battle of the Beltway.
Coming off their first four-game win streak since 2008, the Redskins were becoming a force in the NFC east. Two rookies, Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris, had led the Redskins to a respectable 6-6, even with a tattered defense.
The Baltimore Ravens were right where they wanted to be coming into this game. At 9-3, the Ravens were perched atop the AFC North and fighting for a first-round bye in the playoffs, however, they would be without their two leaders on defense this Sunday. Terrell Suggs was inactive for this game due to a torn biceps, and Ray Lewis was still recovering from his triceps injury. The Baltimore defense has given up more rush yards per game during the 2012 campaign than any other year in the history of the franchise. This was not the same defense Ravens’ fans were used to seeing.
The first half of this game proved to be void of defense. Alfred Morris and Ray Rice were gouging the opposing fronts, and the efficient rush attacks enabled each offense to open up the play-action pass. This resulted in a 21-14 score at half time, with no signs of letting up.
The second half began somewhat surprisingly for the Ravens, though. The Redskins forced Joe Flacco to fumble on the Baltimore’s first drive, intercepted a poor pass on the second drive, and held the Ravens to two three-and-out’s on the following drives.
After two long field goals, another Ravens touchdown and a right knee injury that forced Robert Griffin III out of the game in the final minute, it was up to Kirk Cousins to tie the game with a touchdown and a two-point conversion to get the game to OT. He did just that. He might be the favorite pick as the hero, but there was someone more valuable.
Hero: Kicker Kai Forbath, Washington Redskins
As mentioned above, there were two long field goals in the 3rd quarter that seemed almost insignificant, but these 48- and 49-yard field goals could have easily been missed. They came at a point in the game when both teams were battling for field position and points were hard to come by. They were also at a distance that most fans wouldn’t expect a kicker to hit 100% from. Surprisingly, Forbath has been nothing short of a guarantee from all distances this season. A perfect 11-11 coming into the game, the two field goals made him 8-8 from 40-49 yards.
In overtime, after the Redskins held the Ravens’ offense to another 3-and-out, it was Forbath’s turn yet again. He lined up and nailed the 34-yard field goal to win the game. Any mistake could have robbed the Redskins of their playoff chances, but Kai Forbath refused to allow that.
Zero: Quarterback Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
The most important player on the field is also going to receive the most scrutiny. Even with his three touchdowns before the half, Joe Flacco made mistakes in the second half of this game that cost Baltimore the win. His lack of pocket presence on the first drive of the second half led to a strip sack and fumble recovery by the Washington Redskins. Additionally, on the second drive of the half, Flacco made a poor decision to throw the football while under duress deep in Redskins territory. London Fletcher intercepted the pass. This was the most important change of possession in the game. The Ravens were guaranteed at least three points on that drive, and they came up with zero. That zero allowed the Redskins to stay in the game, tie it up, and eventually win it in overtime.