Guts. That’s what we saw from the Ravens yesterday. That win was a testament to the makeup of this team. Teams that come out in the first quarter with that kind of stench aren’t supposed to win those games on the road. Nothing was going their way, the Dolphins came out running it right down our throats, and we couldn’t even sniff a 1st down. Then the Ravens did what they do best with their backs against the wall. They didn’t quit. They fought. They played tough. And Joe picked apart a tough secondary. And now we’re just a half game out of first place again with an easy schedule the rest of the way. We’re in great position because of a great win. Let’s recap…
- Dolphins won the toss and deferred, challenging our offense to come out and put a drive together. We promptly fell flat on our faces. Torrey’s knee swelled up during warm-ups, so he was unable to be a factor. Forsett’s knee wasn’t as good to go as they thought, and I think it threw the offensive gameplan for a loop. I can’t really justify those 2 3-and-outs otherwise. It made no sense to come out throwing on 1st and 2nd down and then have Taliaferro, who hasn’t had a carry in weeks, run on 3rd and 1. Just an ugly ugly start.
- On the other side, Lamar Miller busted a 15 yard run on their first play from scrimmage, and it looked like we were in for a long Sunday. They were able to drive down the field with short passes and put together those two scoring drives with a lot of help from our defense. We missed tackles. We failed to get pressure. We jumped offsides. It was a DISASTER. Felt like opening day against Cincinnati all over again. We were lucky to only be down 10 points.
- We punted to end the 1st, and the Dolphins had an opportunity to bury us with a TD drive. In stepped Suggs with a big sack to put the kibosh on that. What irked me though, as Suggs will from time to time, was his Ngata-inspired haka dance after the sack. Bud, we’re getting our taints handed to us on both sides of the ball.It’s 10-0. Cut the shit and get back to the huddle for 3rd down. Save the antics for later.
- Flacco, with help from Taliaferro, proceeded to march us right down the field on a beautiful drive, the kinda drive that inspires hope. We were knocking right on the door, and then disaster struck again.
- This is where just about any team would call it quits. Smith with a rare drop, Joe with his first pick in over a month… that’s where every other team just folds and decides it’s just not in the cards. Not the Ravens. Not Joe Flacco. He didn’t prance around the sidelines yelling and pointing fingers at people like a spoiled schoolchild. He remained calm. Didn’t get rattled whatsoever, and the team took after him. This is leadership by example.
– Sure enough, the Ravens got the ball back at their own 3 with 3:08 left in the half and Flacco stepped up his play. Saw what needed to be done and got to business. Rarely do you just see him take off like this, but it was a huge play to kick off the drive.
- They dinked, they dunked, they wasted a couple timeouts, but they were able to get it down to the 1 with 8 seconds left and no timeouts. I had nightmares of Flacco scrambling around and running all that time off the clock like he did against Cincy in Week 1, but he was able to fire a strike to Steve Smith and get into the locker room only down by a FG. Couldn’t ask for a better finish to the first half.
- Dolphins were able to come out of the locker room and pick up a couple first downs, but you could tell they were shaken. Momentum had swung. They started making some of the same careless errors the Ravens made in the 1st quarter. False starts, sloppy incompletions, etc etc. You could tell the tides had turned with the big TD drive before the half.
- I love the 4th and 1 call and I’m not just saying that in hindsight. A lot of people questioned going for it at our own 34, but you should go for that every time. Countless studies have shown coaches are ridiculously overconservative in those situations. Winners go for it there. Losers puss out. Trust your offense to make a play and continue the drive. We were rewarded nicely with 7 points because Harbaugh had the spine most coaches don’t.
- Joe finished the drive with a 13 yard dart to Kamar Aiken. Aiken is no Boldin, but you couldn’t help but notice that this throw was reminiscent of a lot of the TD’s Boldin caught in his time in Baltimore. Which is great to see because that’s when Flacco played his best football.
- Elvis Dumervil was able to get to Tannehill the entire day. He picked up 2.5 of his 3.5 sacks in the 2nd half, breaking Peter Boulware’s single season sack record, now putting him at 16 on the year. It’s hard to say defensive player of the year belongs to anyone but JJ Watt, but if I had a 2nd choice, it would be Doom.
4th Quarter – We started the 4th quarter with a HUGE stop in the red zone, thanks to a big sack by CJ Mosley. I said in the preview that we needed to bring the heat to keep our secondary from being exposed. That sack was a great example of that, as we stacked the right side, and then brought CJ around the left edge to get the stop we needed.
- On top of that CJ made two more great open field tackles on 3rd downs the rest of the way. We covered well enough (despite injuries to two corners) for Tannehill to check down, leaving Mosley the only man between the receiver and the 1st down sticks. Both times CJ dragged the man down and forced 4th down. The rookie might be the best player out of this year’s draft class.
- Flacco’s best play of the day was a throw across his body to journeyman tight end Supernaw. Biggest play on the drive that turned a 14-13 lead into a 21-13 lead. This is just pure arm strength, right on the money.
- Last week, we pissed down our leg because we weren’t able to finish. We couldn’t get the ball going on the ground and we couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down defensively. Yesterday was the complete opposite. We smelled blood and attacked. Forsett was able to break off a big run to put us in position to go up by two scores and we didn’t look back.
- Defense held up down the stretch and it was curtains for the Dolphins. Great win for Joe and the boys to move to 8-5.
Jacksonville up next. Pittsburgh’s goes to Atlanta (exactly the kind of game they find a way to lose), and Cincy goes to Cleveland. Gotta love where we sit one week after the San Diego debacle. Let’s keep it rolling!