Redskins' special efforts key at the end

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,Ravens,Brian McNally

Forbath and Crawford prove big in overtime

So much of the Redskins' 31-28 victory over the Baltimore Ravens at FedEx Field on Sunday afternoon came down to two first-year players who spend most of their time watching from the sidelines.

But don't diminish the importance of Kai Forbath, the strong-legged kicker from UCLA, or Richard Crawford, who a year ago was at Southern Methodist. Both men took advantage of their limited time on the field. Forbath drilled three field goals, including the game-winning 34-yarder in overtime. Crawford set that up with a dynamic 64-yard punt return moments earlier as Washington's special teams helped change the game.

"It hasn't really hit me yet," Forbath said. "But definitely those are the moments that kickers want, and when they come you got to take advantage of them."

Forbath has now hit all 14 of the field goals he has attempted since signing with Washington on Oct. 9. Crawford made a nice impression during training camp with four kick returns for a 10.5 average and was officially told that he would be the main return man over Brandon Banks on Friday.

"Obviously Kai hasn't missed one yet," special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander said. "[Punter] Sav [Rocca] is doing a great job of kicking some balls deep, giving us a chance to hit the returners as well. And just everybody swarming and getting on their block to open it up for Crawford. It's definitely a team effort for those types of plays to happen."

Forbath spent much of the day trying to kick away from dynamic Ravens return man Jacoby Jones. That strategy led to a mistake late in the third quarter when Forbath kicked a ball out of bounds. The ensuing penalty gave Baltimore the ball at the 40, though that drive stalled.

But with the game tied at 28-28 and 29 seconds left, Forbath went right back to it. This time his ball skidded out of the side of the end zone for a critical touchback, and the Ravens simply ran out the clock.

"Field position is a big part of the game, and trying to control that and doing everything we can do to stop their great returner has a big impact on the game," Forbath said.

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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