Quarterbacks: Fall behind against the Ravens at your own peril

December 08, 2008|By MIKE PRESTON | MIKE PRESTON,mike.preston@baltsun.com

Last night was like old times, like back in 2000.

Once the Ravens got their 14-0 lead in the first quarter against the Washington Redskins, you knew it was over, didn't you?

Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger can lead comebacks against the Ravens, but not Jason Campbell, even if the Ravens' offense kept turning the ball over.

If you give a team like the Ravens the early lead, it allows Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan to play his safeties deep while turning his linebackers loose to bring pressure. It's not a pretty picture for opponents and certainly wasn't for Campbell last night.

The Redskins turned in a good defensive effort, but they aren't nearly as fast. The Ravens' team speed puts them at another level.

Rookie mistake

Quarterback Joe Flacco's rookie mistake came with 10:07 left in the first quarter. Instead of sliding headfirst after a 9-yard run, Flacco tried to take on a Washington linebacker.

Nice idea, Joe, but you'd better learn how to get down. That gigantic sigh you heard at M&T Bank Stadium last night came from owner Steve Bisciotti.

Willis is back

As promised, coach John Harbaugh had running back Willis McGahee back in the lineup last night. McGahee started and looked rusty dropping a pass and fumbling a toss in the first quarter.

His two backups played well. Rookie Ray Rice has great balance and body lean always seems to be falling forward for an extra yard or 2. Le'Ron McClain had some big runs early in the fourth quarter behind fullback Lorenzo Neal.

It might be time to make McClain the starter, and let Rice and McGahee come in for relief. McClain is big and intimidating, and he can set the tone early in every game. Plus, it's December. It's time to establish the run with the big back.

Not paying attention

I know the Redskins watch film, but that wasn't evident last night.

Everyone knows the Ravens love to blitz, but a lot of times the Redskins looked ill-prepared. It's one thing to get beat physically, and another to have guys in position to block.

On the couple of times the Ravens overloaded on the weakside or backside, the Redskins had no answer.

Playing deep

The Redskins tested Ravens cornerback Fabian Washington deep several times, and he was in good position most of the time. The one time he allowed Redskins receiver Antwaan Randle El behind, Campbell threw the ball on a line instead of lofting it.

Washington and several of the other members of the secondary still need to improve their tackling.

Best behavior

The Ravens played on national television and, for the most part, behaved well. There was no excessive taunting, very little dancing over players after big hits and few fights.

Even inside linebacker Bart Scott was on his best behavior.

Another gear

Was it me, or did the Ravens' defense just look much faster than the Redskins' offense? On passing situations, it appeared the Ravens constantly beat Washington's offensive line off the snap of the ball.

The quickest player was Terrell Suggs, who kept beating the Washington offensive tackles around the corner. Suggs owned Redskins left tackle Chris Samuels, who had little help with double teams.

The drifter

Maybe because he didn't have to move as much in college, but Flacco has to become ready to throw quicker when rolling out. He's still drifting when he should be ready to throw.

New wrinkle

Every week, Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron pulls out a new wrinkle or something he hasn't used in weeks to manufacture points.

The throwback pass to tight end Todd Heap for 24 yards on a fourth-and-one just inside Washington territory in the third quarter was a beauty.

Speaking of play-callers, former Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Fassel was in the press box calling the game for one of the many broadcasting teams last night.

Hot head

Television cameras showed Harbaugh smiling and the Ravens celebrating a lot on the sidelines but failed to catch some of the temper tantrums thrown by Redskins coach Jim Zorn.

Zorn had better watch himself, or he could have a meltdown like San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary, and that wouldn't be pretty either.

Big, bad Rolle

With five seconds remaining in the third quarter, Campbell ran out of bounds at the Ravens' 15 instead of taking on cornerback Samari Rolle.

I never thought anybody would run away from Rolle, not even a quarterback.

Romo teases

I knew Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was going to choke and allow the Pittsburgh Steelers to come back and win.

Until it's proved otherwise, Romo is a big tease like Vinny Testaverde.

Listen to Mike Preston on Mondays from 4 to 6 p.m. on Fox Sports (1370 AM).

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