The Baltimore Ravens are leaving South Beach winners, having defeated the Dolphins 26-23. While there were thousands of Ravens fan at Sun Life Stadium, the record books will show this was in-fact a road game.
This is a win the Ravens can feel good about. Not because they played particularly well, but because they beat a quality team in their building, and gained a significant in-conference win. They also got back over .500. More than anything else, they found a way to get things done – even though they remain an obvious work in progress.
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What did we see?
1) The game just provided further indication of why the Ravens traded for Eugene Monroe. The O-line again had major issues, with Flacco regularly facing pressure from the interior, and the RB’s having little room to run between the tackles. Fairly early in the game Shipley replaced Osemele at LG. For part of the 2nd half, there did seem to be improvement from the line. However, at a critical point, McKinnie was badly beaten around the edge; with Flacco being hit as the threw. This allowed Miami’s ReShad Jones to make the pick, and take it to the house for the tie.
2) We saw a nice collective effort from the Baltimore defense. Good tackling, and positive plays from each position group (D-line, LB’s, and Secondary) – with the D-line particularly playing well.
3) Ray Rice does not look to be fully recovered from his left hip flexor strain to me. While the blocking in-front of him was poor, he often looked to be running in quick sand. That included the rare opportunities where he caught the ball in-space as a receiver. I think he is trying to gut things out, and give what he can. He did look good on 2 TD runs.
4) There was a 1st Quarter pitch to Pierce, where the 2nd year RB did not convert the 1st; but we liked the design of the play. Certainly something we would like to see more of.
5) His 1st Quarter INT was overturned on the reply, but Ihedigbo made a nice play on that ball. His level of play over the 1st Quarter of the year was high; and that was a good example of why. However, he was beat for a large gain by Clay in the 4th Quarter, and one of the guys beat deep in the final minute.
6) There was a Juszcyzk sighting, with the Rookie in on a 3rd down at TE.
7) Torrey Smith’s development towards becoming a complete WR gains steam each week. He had a huge 41 yard gain on 3rd and 5. Inside play, with a ton of yards after the catch. Later added a nice 15 yard catch with a slant over the middle. Late in the 3rd he caught back-to-back passes for 35 more yards. The first going for 22 yards he found a soft spot against the zone. With the Ravens using play action, Smith had another 1st down over the middle in the 4th. His 6th catch came when Flacco rolled out, and Smith came back to the ball. This took the ball to the Dolphins 34 with 2+ minutes left.
8) Coach Harbaugh seemed to announce earlier this week that Ed Dickson needed to improve his play to keep his spot on the roster. If today was an audition, Dickson helped his case with a 43 yard catch in traffic, and a nice 8 yard gain to the sideline.
9) With Jones, and Brown not active; Doss and Thompson joined Smith as the only 3 active WR’s for the Ravens today. Doss made a good catch on 3rd down over the middle, and also added a 40 yard grab down the field. Early in the 4th, he picked up 6 yards on 3rd and 2. Thompson continues to impress at KR, with a 47 yard gain after the Dolphins first FG. Thompson’s 6 yard gain over the middle set-up 1st and Goal in the 4th.
10) Thigpen is a weapon for the Dolphins, and seemed to impact Koch’s punting.
11) Speaking of distractions, Flacco appeared rattled by the pass rush up the gut he was facing in the 1st half. He knew he had to quickly get rid of the ball, because the pass blocking would not hold. He was not stepping-up in the pocket, and the timing routes were off.
12) Rice’s fumble directly led to 3 points for Miami.
13) Early on, J. Smith was called for defensive holding. He had a horrible play near the end of 1st half on Hartline’s catch. Just too many yards after the catch for the Miami WR. He was then burnt on a back shoulder throw for Clay’s TD catch.
14) Wallace had a good game, and deserves credit for the plays he made. That includes him beating a double-team from Elam and Webb. Overall though, I thought Webb often provided good coverage on him. He showed he could run step-for-step with Wallace. He also made a nice play on the ball in the end zone, as he defended Gibson. Big time play from Webb with 5 minutes left in the 4th, jumping the route and deflecting the pass.
15) Arthur Brown showed off his speed running down a tackle in the 1st. Good seeing a glimpse of his future.
16) McPhee, Upshaw, and Dumervil each had a sack. Suggs had 3. Dumervil’s sack forcing a 57 yard FG attempt which was missed to effectively end the game. We know the Dolphins pass-blocking is poor, but the Ravens still get credit for getting to Tannehill.
17) The Ravens were having all sorts of issues converting on 3rd down early on. That improved some during the game, but you would’ve liked to have had the 3rd and 2 with under 2 minutes left.
18) It’s a nice safety blanket when you can have confidence in your PK.
19) Each week D. Smith shows-up. Just a tremendous acquisition there.
20) How were the Ravens ever beat deep on that play in the final minute plus?