- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 24, 2014

BALTIMORE — Any sedation brought on by Saturday’s rain and gloom was not reversed by the Redskins offense up the road in Baltimore.

Robert Griffin III completed five passes for 20 yards. The first-team offense gained 40 yards on 21 first-half plays. Left tackle Trent Williams scrapped with various Ravens, argued with the referees and had a hard time stifling Baltimore rushers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil.

The Redskins finished their third preseason game with a 23-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at saturated and well-attended M&T Bank Stadium. They also wrapped most of the preseason work for the first-team offense with a bumbling evening.

Griffin, who was groused about during the week for his failure to get down when scrambling in his second preseason game and preference to use social media, had a new set of problems Saturday. He fumbled a snap out of the shotgun. His quarterback rating was 27.1. What was likely his final pass of a fluctuating preseason was intercepted. He was not moved.

“I think just going through that process, having a bad outing tonight, will help us in Game 1,” Griffin said. “I know people can’t see that right now. There will be overreactions all over the place. But it’s our job to make sure we stay cool, calm and collected and keep fighting on.”

Alfred Morris gained 19 yards on one of his six carries. He ran for just 10 yards on the five others.

SEE ALSO: After penalty, Brandon Meriweather defends tackling style

A deep pass from Griffin to wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who had a step up the sideline, was underthrown and caught out of bounds. The Redskins most significant offseason offensive addition did not have a reception Saturday.

“I think he’s a lot further along than people will give him credit for,” Gruden said of Griffin. “You know, all you guys have to look at is the practice, or the game tape, and it wasn’t very good by anybody, but I’ve seen him practice and I’ve seen him come a long way and I feel confident about where he is. Obviously, today didn’t show how much he’s come forward, but hopefully, we have some time before Houston.”

Over seven possessions, the failure was widespread.

“There’s a lot of things that go on into a bad football play and poor execution on the offense,” Gruden said. “Everybody’s going to point to Robert, I’m sure, but it really is a total team thing. We had a couple chances for some plays, and we didn’t make them. Nobody played good enough in that first half to really talk about of note. There’s a lot of correcting to do, and we’ll do it.”

Griffin took a knee to close the half. He threw toward a covered Morris on the first offensive play of the second half. The ball was deflected and intercepted. The first team’s lone scoring drive was five plays and 36 yards. Two defensive penalties during it helped moved the Redskins into field-goal position for Kai Forbath’s 32-yard kick. Three points for the starters. That was it.

“We can take away positives from a couple games (in the preseason),” Williams said. “Today, I don’t know if we can find a positive out of that.”

While the ineffective first-team offense tried to sort things out on the sideline, a high-pressure Redskins defense stuffed the Ravens twice on fourth down.

Even with linebacker Brian Orakpo off the field because of an ankle injury, the Redskins spent the first half and much of the game in the Ravens’ backfield. Often blitzing out of nickel packages, the Redskins sacked Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco twice in the first half. They continually pushed him around in the pocket.

Early, safety Brandon Meriweather walloped Baltimore running back Bernard Pierce. The hit sent a groggy Pierce to the sideline. He was evaluated for a concussion and did not return.

Meriweather reverted to his flag-filled ways, however, when he later struck receiver Torrey Smith helmet-to-helmet and received a personal foul penalty.

Meriweather wasn’t alone in his physical engagement. Fellow safety Ryan Clark hit tight end Dennis Pitta so hard, Pitta’s helmet popped off.

“We did a great job on defense, and that’s very exciting to see that,” Gruden said. “Some games it might be like that. We might have to win some games 13-10.”

The starters will take a game break until Sept. 7, when the Redskins travel to Houston to face the Texans, menacing J.J. Watt and his new rushing sidekick No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney in the season opener. Gruden said next Thursday’s preseason finale in Tampa Bay will be restricted to the backups, making it a crucial day for those fighting for final roster spots.

In the interim, the Redskins will assess a team where the defensive starters finished the preseason displaying a formidable rush and potential. Yet, the offense was roundly ineffective during their longest preseason outing.

The opener is just more than two weeks away.

• Todd Dybas can be reached at tdybas@washingtontimes.com.

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