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(I, personally, would take self-delusion and give the points.)

Zorn´s explanation: “We were very close [to going for it]. But the defense was doing such a great job of getting the ball back for us, and we didn´t want to give them a short field” if the play failed.

Problem was, there wasn´t enough time to get the ball back, especially with the Redskins out of timeouts. Baltimore ran two perfunctory running plays, and the half was over.

By the fourth quarter, Portis (oil change), Chris Samuels (triceps) and Jon Jansen (knee) were out of the lineup attending to their various aches and pains, and the Redskins were doing what they could to make the game interesting by booting a field goal, recovering a fumble and finally crossing the goal line on a Campbell-to-Antwaan Randle El throw. With better than 11 minutes to go, it was 17-10.

But it didn´t feel that close, not in such bitter cold conditions — and not going against the Ravens´ demoniacal defense. Challenged for the first time all night, Baltimore muscled its way down the field — 11 straight runs, 10 by McClain — before wrapping up the long drive with a 28-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Derrick Mason. The whole exercise had an “Oh, well, if we must” quality to it.

What happened on that last series? “I honestly don´t know,” Andre Carter said. “It was like the 12th round of a fight, and they were just grinding it out. But as a defense you never want to finish on that note.”

And as a team, you never want to end on the note — B flat, it sounds like — the Redskins are ending on this season. They´ve lost four of their last five to drop to 7-6 with three weeks remaining, two of which will be spent in Cincinnati and San Francisco (conqueror of Brett Favre and the Jets on Sunday).

The question you have to ask yourself now is: Have they hit bottom? We´ll know soon enough, I suppose. Only the winless Lions are closer to the bottom than the 1-11-1 Bengals.