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Grossman, Beck remain even in QB battle after Redskins’ 34-31 loss to Ravens

Grossman shows promise; Beck has quiet night until second half

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BALTIMORE — If coach Mike Shanahan already has decided that John Beck will be the Washington Redskins' starting quarterback when the regular season begins Sept. 11, Rex Grossman on Thursday night at least gave him a reason to consider thinking about maybe revisiting that decision.

Grossman started Washington's 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens and completed 8 of 15 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown in four series against Baltimore's first-string defense.

Beck, who alternated with Grossman every two series through the third quarter, finished 6 of 10 for 108 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

If Shanahan's mind is made up, he didn't say so after another competitive outing.

"I'm going to evaluate them all the way through camp and all the way through the last preseason game, possibly up to the day before we play the Giants," he said. "It all depends on if someone separates themselves. ... So we've got a few more days of evaluation. As I said before, I feel very good about both quarterbacks. We can win with them."

Judging by the quarterbacks' play in three preseason games, the one deserving of the starting job is difficult to distinguish. Grossman and Beck each have moved the offense well at times. None has pulled away in the competition, either, with the finish line in sight.

Thursday's game might have been the final chance for the quarterbacks to play against a first-string defense. Many teams rest their starters in the preseason finale, so the most impactful game evidence is in.

Asked if he believes he has done enough to win the job, Grossman said: "I just feel good about what I have done."

Beck's answer to the same question also wasn't conclusive.

"I can't really worry about that," he said. "If I do, it's just mental quicksand. You can get stuck in it."

Grossman started the game because Beck started last week against Indianapolis, Shanahan said. He proceeded to remind us that he's capable of making quality passes when he's afforded time to throw in a clean pocket.

Grossman led the Redskins on an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive at the end of the second quarter. He connected with Anthony Armstrong for 18 yards down the middle. He hit Fred Davis after a double move for 19 yards. He nailed Jabar Gaffney for 14 yards.

And then the cherry on top: a 24-yard touchdown to Santana Moss in the back right corner of the end zone. The safety appeared to be late getting over, and Moss adjusted to Grossman's throw, which was a bit behind him.

Beck, by comparison, was quiet until he led the Redskins' second-string offense on a 12-play, 97-yard touchdown drive against Baltimore's reserves at the start of the second half.

For all you asterisk-applying types, he was only 1-for-3 for 33 yards and an interception in his two series against the Ravens' top defense.

His first pass of the game was a beauty, a lofted attempt down the right sideline that Armstrong hauled in for a 33-yard gain.

He later dulled the good vibes, though, by heaving a deep pass that was intercepted by Baltimore's Lardarius Webb. Beck's intended receiver, Donte' Stallworth, never was open down the left sideline.

Beck wasn't discouraged by the interception, though.

"We said on the sideline, 'Hey, if we get the edge and it's single coverage, let's take a shot,'" Beck said. "Sometimes that happens. Those are high-risk, and unfortunately that one didn't work out. I told Donte' on the sideline, 'Don't even worry about that, man.'"

Beck was 5 of 6 for 75 yards on the drive that started the second half. He connected with Terrence Austin three times, including a screen that Austin turned into a 13-yard touchdown.

"The offensive linemen did a great job in protection, and we had some key runs to set up those third-and-manageable plays," Beck said. "When you are able to do that, you are able to able to put the ball in the end zone."

Running back Tim Hightower continued his strong preseason. He had 56 yards on nine carries, including a 37-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

"I told our guys that I just missed breaking one earlier," Hightower said. "I said to them, 'Just keep working, and I'll get one.' And the next play the line did a great job, and there was a huge hole and I was able to break it."

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall preceded Hightower's score with a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown. He jumped a curl route by receiver Anquan Boldin, caught Joe Flacco's pass and zig-zagged through tacklers to get to the end zone.

Kicker Graham Gano made a 48-yard field goal to improve to 7-for-7 on the preseason.

The Redskins' first-string defense played the first half and surrendered 14 points.

Penalties were a problem for the first time this preseason. Washington committed eight for 52 yards, including two penalties that gave the Ravens a first down.

"We were sloppy," nose tackle Barry Cofield said. "I know I was sloppy — it starts with me, so I take a lot of blame for it. I didn't play my best ball. We made a lot of mistakes — some third-down penalties that just killed us.

"We could've been incredibly successful — they might not have scored at all if we didn't kill ourselves with penalties. Even with the mistakes we made, there was a lot to learn from — and we've got to get better."

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