- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2008

— BALTIMORE | A once-promising season for the Washington Redskins - remember that 4-1 start? - continued to dissolve Sunday night with another prime-time defeat, forcing them to deal with a cold reality after losing 24-10 to the Baltimore Ravens at frigid M&T Bank Stadium.

The Redskins are a last-place team.

They started their second losing streak of the season after two Redskins turnovers in the first six minutes equaled two Ravens touchdowns and the Washington offense was held in check by Baltimore’s sensational defense.

At 7-6, the Redskins tumbled into the NFC East cellar, a half-game behind Philadelphia (7-5-1) and ninth in the conference. The Redskins were unable to take advantage of losses by Atlanta and Dallas (both 8-5) earlier Sunday.

The loss snapped the Redskins’ four-game road winning streak, and now only wins at Cincinnati, over Philadelphia at home and at San Francisco will give them a chance at securing the sixth and final playoff spot.

“Obviously, our backs are against the wall,” tight end Chris Cooley said. “We may win all three and not get in the playoffs.”

Baltimore (9-4) won for the seventh time in eight games to set up an AFC North showdown next week against Pittsburgh (10-3).

After the Redskins scored 10 consecutive points in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 17-10, the Ravens put the game away with a clock-draining (nearly eight minutes) 12-play, 83-yard drive that ended with Joe Flacco’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Mason with 3:44 left.

Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell was 21-for-37 for 218 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. His team’s offensive struggles continued; the unit has just five touchdowns in the last five games, during which time the Redskins have gone 1-4.

“We just sucked,” Cooley said. “We suck right now as an offense. We can’t put up points. We have a long way to go.”

Running back Clinton Portis didn’t play after the opening series of the third quarter and was limited to 11 carries, but the team did not report a new injury. Starting tackles Jon Jansen (sprained left MCL) and Chris Samuels (strained right triceps) did not finish the game.

“We weren’t playing with a full deck [in the second half] but we were early and we weren’t moving the ball,” coach Jim Zorn said. “We adjusted at halftime and I thought we came out very strong.”

Baltimore safety Ed Reed intercepted two passes and returned a fumble 22 yards for a touchdown. Redskins safety LaRon Landry’s interception and fumble return resulted in the Redskins’ two scores.

The Redskins dug themselves a 17-0 hole before trying to forge a comeback. Shaun Suisham’s 42-yard field goal with 13:40 remaining prevented their first shutout since a 36-0 shellacking at the hands of the New York Giants in October 2005.

Landry set up the score with his second interception of the year. The Redskins got as far as the Baltimore 12 before the drive stalled.

On the ensuing possession, Landry again was on the spot, leveling Willis McGahee and forcing a fumble. DeAngelo Hall returned the fumble 13 yards to the Baltimore 30. On the next play, Campbell’s outlet pass to Ladell Betts gained 23 yards.

Three plays later, facing fourth-and-goal from the Baltimore 5, coach Jim Zorn went for it, and the lead was cut to 17-10 when Campbell threw a strike that Antwaan Randle El caught for the touchdown with 11:27 remaining.

By the time Washington got the ball back, the deficit was back to 14 points. The Ravens ran the ball 11 consecutive times before Mason got behind Carlos Rogers and adjusted to catch Flacco’s underthrown pass.

The start proved to be a nightmare for the Redskins.

First drive: Terrell Suggs stormed past Samuels to hit Campbell’s arm as he threw. The pass fluttered downfield and Reed intercepted at the Baltimore 41. Five plays later - after Flacco threw 26 yards to Mason and Ray Rice ran for 21 on a third-and-10 play - the Ravens made it 7-0 when fullback Le’Ron McClain scored on an 8-yard touchdown.

Second drive: Three plays for 4 yards and a punt that was tipped.

Third drive: Portis gained 11 yards but Reed stripped the ball, recovered the fumble and ran 22 yards for the touchdown. Zorn challenged the call, but referee Terry McAulay ruled Portis’ right elbow had not hit the turf when the ball was jarred loose.

The fast start by Baltimore’s defense was somewhat similar to how it controlled Cincinnati last week. The Bengals’ first six possessions consisted of 18 plays for 20 yards and one first down.

The Ravens’ offense entered the game with the most snaps in the NFL (809), but Flacco and Co. stalled after their opening drive. Baltimore went three-and-out on its next three possessions and ended the first half with only four first downs and 14 fewer plays than the Redskins.

Despite controlling possession and reaching Baltimore territory three times, the Redskins were unable to carve into the deficit.

Late in the first quarter, the Redskins reached the Baltimore 45 but a delay of game penalty and a 13-yard sack ended the scoring opportunity.

In the second quarter, a 5-yard Campbell pass to Devin Thomas gave the Redskins a second down at the Baltimore 30. But Campbell was incomplete on his next two passes and Suisham was wide right from 48 yards. Suisham has missed field goals in four consecutive games and is 22-for-31 this year.

Late in the first half, the Redskins were pinned at their own 5-yard line but managed to get to the Baltimore 43 before punting.

Baltimore extended the lead to 17-0 with 4:11 left in the third quarter on Matt Stover’s 32-yard field goal. That capped a 14-play, 65-yard drive that included two third-down conversions and a 24-yard pass to Todd Heap on fourth-and-1 from the Washington 43.

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