The Ravens bus down 95 this week to face the Redskins at Fedex Field Sunday at 1 p.m. Baltimore dropped to 9-3 last week after relinquishing a ten point lead at home, and allowing 37-year old Charlie Batch to drive 85 yards in the final 6:14 for a game winning field goal.
The Redskins picked up their third straight win improving to 6-6, by beating the Giants on Monday night, 17-16, a game in which rookie phenom Robert Griffin III dazzled the national audience.
Griffin causes good things to happen for an offense. He both fumbled the ball for a touchdown recovered by Josh Morgan in the first quarter, and ripped a 17 yard strike to Pierre Garcon with less than 2 minutes remaining for the needed first down to run out the clock.
This once-every-four-annual, nonetheless heated bitter beltway rivalry kicks into high gear this Sunday from lovely Landover MD. Here are some keys to the game.
Griffin the crime dog
The Redskins’ run to even their record to .500 can largely be attributed to the play-making ability of last year’s Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III. He’s the most evasive quarterback in the league, he throws the ball with pinpoint accuracy, and has the breakaway speed to go for six on any play.
Griffin is completing 67% of his passes for 2,660 yards, on 17 TDs to four picks, and has a Cunningham from ’90-like 714 yards on the ground with six touchdowns. The Ravens pass rush hasn’t been up to par this season, and Terrell Suggs’ participation after tearing his bicep on Sunday in the 4th quarter, won’t be known until game time.
The Ravens need a spark from Art Jones, Pernell McPhee, Kruger and company, to get pressure on Griffin while also containing his running. Cary Williams and Corey Graham will also be challenged in handling WR Pierre Garcon, particularly over the middle where he is most dangerous. Griffin has shown he can make all the throws with time.
Ravens wide-out Torrey Smith is one of the fastest men in football. Last week, he was targeted eight times, including several overshot bombs, but only came away with three catches for 33 yards. The Ravens should find ways to get Smith the ball on shorter crossing routes, where he is extremely hard to guard streaking across the field, so he can then run after the catch.
The Redskins are ranked 31st in the league in passing defense, with 299 yards yielded per game, so there should be opportunities for Flacco to find Anquan Boldin and Smith through the air. 3 for 8 to Torrey isn’t good enough, and also evidences poor offensive game-planning.
In order to improve efficiency, I’m working on designing a Macro that types a long-winded questioning of why Ray Rice doesn’t get 20-25 touches per game, with one simple click of the mouse. This has been an issue on repeat for helping to explain Ravens losses. At first, I was convinced that an explanation for why Cam Cameron doesn’t feed his best player, a top 3 NFL running back, in his prime, constantly throughout an important game, could not possibly exist.
But then suddenly it dawned on me.
As exemplified by brilliant American folk hero George Costanza, and his famous dragging of a Yankees World Series trophy behind his car through the stadium parking lot, so he’d be fired and then hired by the cross town Mets, Cameron is clearly avoiding Rice, so the team after 3 years of questioning will finally have no choice but to send him packing.
Cameron’s dream of coaching the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts’ offensive line will then be within his reach. The Argonauts defeated Calgary last month to hoist Baltimore’s once held and cherished Grey Cup trophy, and the glittering call of Canadian mite proves too great a pull for Cam to want to stay.
The only possible issue is defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who’s meanwhile abandoned the Ravens’ organized chaos historical style of defense. He may just be pulling a Mr. Wilhelm by also gunning for a posting in Toronto.
The Redskins are in must win mode the rest of the way since 9-7 usually doesn’t get you in the playoffs. The Ravens are in a tight race for one of the AFC’s top two playoff seeds, which earn home games in January, with Denver, New England, and Houston, and need every win they can earn, since winning on the road has been their hardest challenge.
With both Manning brothers headed to Baltimore in the next two weeks, Baltimore needs to quickly rebound from last week’s heartbreak by aggressively challenging the Redskins on both sides of the ball.