The Baltimore Ravens lost to the Washington Redskins on a 34 yard field goal in overtime but most Ravens fans know the game should have been over long before then. When Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III left the game due to a nasty leg injury, his backup Kirk Cousins, never should have been able to drive the team downfield. Not only did he lead them to a touchdown, but also scored the two-point conversion all by himself to knot the score.
The Ravens not only missed so many opportunities to put this game out of reach in regulation, they also contributed greatly to the Redskins efforts by handing them two critical turnovers that resulted in six points via long field goals. Thanks to another classic late-game meltdown by QB Joe Flacco, Washington was able to put points on the board when their offense was being shut down by the Ravens defense in the second half.
In fairness to Flacco, his three touchdown passes in the first half gave the Ravens the lead after the first 26 minutes. In all three instances, he had time and found WR Anquan Boldin the first two times and TE Dennis Pitta the third time. His first half was virtually perfect, ending with a QB Rating over 145.
Unfortunately, his inability to put together two similar halves resulted in only seven more points the rest of the game, a span covering over 34 minutes. After being given plenty of time to throw in the first half, Flacco's protection broke down repeatedly the rest of the game, continuing to reveal Flacco's inability to recognize, adjust and handle the pressure.
At the same time, the defense could not stop RG3 and his offensive teammates in the first quarter but then found a way to corral him and limit the Redskins effectiveness. Almost as frustrating as the Ravens offense's ability to recognize and react was the same for the defense, as whenever it appeared the Redskins had their backs to the wall, the defense would decide to rush only three and were burned every single time they did so.
For whatever reason, once Griffin was lost to injury late in the fourth quarter, Baltimore refused to blitz his understudy, giving Kirk Cousins time to find open receivers with the game on the line. The final time this occurred was on his TD pass just before he ran in the 2-point conversion himself to tie the game with seconds remaining.
The lack of confidence and gutless decisions to try to add points at the end of the first half with a minute left and get into position for a game-winning FG with less than 30 seconds and a timeout only added to the frustrations felt by Ravens fans all game long.
After finding ways to win close games earlier in the season, this "live-by-the-sword" season is becoming a "die-by-the-sword" one and Baltimore is facing a tough three-game stretch to end the regular season. While a win next week at home over the Denver Broncos will clinch the AFC North title, that is far from a sure thing and looking more unlikely than likely at this point. The two other games, hosting the New York Giants and then ending the season at the Cincinnati Bengals, are no walks in the park either.
Once firmly in control of the division and looking at a first round playoff bye, the Ravens are now fighting for their playoff lives and fans have every right to not only be frustrated, but angry as well.