Ed Reed and the Baltimore Ravens hardly are used to losing consecutive games.
Hadn't happened since early in the 2009 season, until a 31-28 overtime setback against the Washington Redskins on Sunday followed last weekend's defeat against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"We've had a tough run here," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, whose team had won right after each of its previous 15 losses.
While the Ravens (9-4) still hold a two-game lead in the AFC North with three to play, they know they need to find a way to get headed in a positive direction before hosting Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in a week.
"It's going to be challenging, but we're up for it," Reed said. "We're ready to get back to Baltimore and get this train rolling the right way."
Both of Baltimore's past two games ended on final-play field goal by its opponent — a 34-yarder by Kai Forbath on Sunday, shortly after rookie Richard Crawford's 64-yard punt return. And both losses came with backup quarterbacks in the game — the Ravens lost to the Redskins despite knocking out Robert Griffin III with a sprained right knee late in the fourth quarter.
"We kept after him," Ravens defensive tackle Arthur Jones said. "That was the thing: We went into this game knowing we had to hit him, knowing we had to repeatedly hit him and make him pick himself off the ground."
With Baltimore ahead by eight points, the man known as RG3 was hurt when he was tackled by Haloti Ngata at the end of a 13-yard scramble. Griffin left for one play, returned for four, but was hopping on the field, keeping all his weight on his left leg.
Eventually, he knelt on the turf and was helped off the field.
Fellow rookie Kirk Cousins stepped in and finished the job, connecting with Pierre Garcon for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds remaining and then running in the 2-point conversion. Reed said the Ravens were ready for Cousins to try to run the ball, but "we didn't execute."
While the Redskins (7-6) won their fourth game in a row, putting more pressure on the New York Giants in the race for the NFC East title, the Ravens wasted a chance to clinch an playoff berth.
Baltimore did get some help in the standings though, because Pittsburgh and Cincinnati both lost Sunday to drop to 7-5.
But the Ravens know they let a victory slip away.
After scoring 21 points in the first half, their offense's first four drives of the second half ended with quarterback Joe Flacco's fumble, his interception deep in Washington's territory and two three-and-outs.
"We kind of stopped ourselves today," said Flacco, who completed 16 of 21 passes for 182 yards and three first-half TD passes.
Still, the Ravens did take a 28-20 lead on Ray Rice's 7-yard touchdown run with 4:47 to play.
This was Baltimore's fourth straight game decided by three points. They won the first two, then lost the past two.
"As a leader on this team I like to finish teams out," said Rice, who finished with 121 yards on 20 carries. "I don't want to be known as, 'Yeah, we get them close in the fourth quarter, and the Ravens are going to give it away.' That's never been us. That's not going to be us."
Harbaugh sounded a similar note while declining to directly answer a question that asked him to evaluate Flacco's performance.
"There's no grade to be given right now. ... We all need to be better," Harbaugh said. "We all need to find a way to finish the game better. That's the bottom line."
NOTES: Ravens RG Marshal Yanda sprained his right ankle and was wearing a black walking boot on that foot in the locker room. Other injuries for Baltimore: LB Jameel McClain had a neck injury, but X-rays were negative; FB Vonta Leach sprained his ankle; Rice had a left hip pointer. ... Harbaugh on the OT return by Crawford, who replaced the inactive Brandon Banks for the Redskins on punts: "He was able to kind of negotiate the first wave then cut it back and there was no cutback defender there." ... Ravens WR Anquan Boldin caught two TD passes and topped 10,000 yards receiving for his career. ... Washington's 186 yards were the most by any NFL team in the first quarter this season and the most by the franchise in that quarter since 1997.
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