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No Quarterback Resolution As Ravens Edge Redskins Late In ‘Battle Of The Beltway’

By ZAC BOYER | zboyer@freelancestar.com

BALTIMORE – If the suspense of Beck vs. Grossman was to result in the answer all were seeking Thursday night, those three words nobody ever wants to see could have flashed disappointingly across the bottom of the television screen.

To be continued.

Those watching hope it won’t be a year before the suspense is lifted, though that possibility exists. Neither John Beck nor Rex Grossman did anything to establish themselves in the starring role of Washington Redskins quarterback in the team’s 34-31 loss to Baltimore, instead continuing a battle that, head coach Mike Shanahan admits, may drag on for some time.

Plot twists, character development – the game, played before 70,361 at M&T Bank Stadium, had it all. The sense of finality, though, perhaps that go-home-happy feeling – it wasn’t there.

“I can’t really worry about that,” Beck said. “If I do, it’s just mental quicksand. You can get stuck in it. I just do what I can, play when they say play, and do the best that I can.”

The main issue through the first three weeks of practice is that Beck and Grossman – or Grossman and Beck, depending on whom is viewed as the understudy – have shared the spotlight. That was true again against the Ravens when Grossman finished 8-for-15 for 112 yards and a touchdown and Beck went 6-for-10 for 108 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

One factor distinguished the two Thursday as Grossman started the game. Anointed the starter Wednesday night in a conversation with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur, Grossman played the first two series, returned for the final two series of the first half and sat out the second half.

Beck, on the other hand, entered late in the first quarter, left midway through the second and returned for two drives at the start of the second half.

Grossman could have used the extra preparation. He completed just two of his first seven passes for 27 yards in the first three series, but when he returned to the field with 2:59 to play in the second quarter, things were different.

The first five passes Grossman threw were completions, and though the next three fell dead, he found Santana Moss fading in the back right corner of the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown pass on third-and-15.

It gave the Redskins a 21-14 lead at the break after DeAngelo Hall scored first for Washington on a 52-yard interception return, and Tim Hightower ran 37 yards for a touchdown. It also answered two touchdowns by the Ravens, who scored on a three-yard run by Ray Rice and a 35-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Lee Evans in the second quarter.

“As I play back all the plays in my head, I don’t think I would have done anything different had I been in there [the whole time],” Grossman said. “It was pretty easy, actually.”

Beck returned after halftime and, in a contrast from his 33-yard completion to Anthony Armstrong on his first play of the first half, threw an interception to Lardarius Webb that was intended for Donte Stallworth.

He responded on the next series, taking the Redskins on a 12-play, 97-yard drive that resulted in a 13-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Austin.

That would be the curtain call for Beck, who was replaced by Kellen Clemens late in the third quarter.

“You want to be able to go back out and you want to be able to put a drive together, because you want to be able to feel good about the night,” Beck said. “Terrence Austin did a good job with that.”

Austin’s touchdown reception put the Redskins ahead once again at 28-21 after Flacco found Anquan Boldin for 12 yards and a touchdown nearly seven and a half minutes earlier. The teams traded field goals to start the fourth quarter – Billy Cundiff made a 44-yarder, Graham Gano made a 48-yarder and Cundiff made a 33-yarder – before former Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor led the Ravens to the victory with 22 seconds remaining when he found Brandon Jones with a nine-yard touchdown pass.

Clemens, who finished the game for the Redskins, went 4-for-8 for 33 yards and an interception. Austin had team highs of 71 yards and five catches, and Hightower had 56 yards on nine carries.

The uncertainty of the quarterback situation will now carry into the final preseason game against Tampa Bay next Thursday – and perhaps into the following week, which leads up to the regular-season opener against the New York Giants on Sept. 11.

“I feel very good about both quarterbacks,” Shanahan said. “We can win with them. I think they played well enough today for people to see that even outside our organization. Hopefully, they keep playing well.”

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