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Game Recap: Ravens 26, Dolphins 23

Posted Oct 6, 2013

Despite a pick-six and protection issues, the Ravens made enough plays to win, 26-23.


A lot didn’t go well for the Ravens Sunday in Miami.

Quarterback Joe Flacco was getting battered, then threw a game-tying pick-six in the fourth quarter. The offensive line had issues once again. The Dolphins hit a ridiculous bomb on fourth down in the final minutes.

But the Ravens scratched and clawed long enough and eventually outlasted the Dolphins for a wild third win of the season.

Baltimore watched a 57-yard field-goal attempt from Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis sail wide, giving the Ravens a gritty 26-23 victory, their first on the road this season.

“We needed this win, big-time,” safety James Ihedigbo said. “A road win against a very good football team, we showed our Ravens perseverance and came out on top. And we fought tooth and nail to do it.”

A week after throwing five interceptions in a frustrating loss in Buffalo, Flacco responded with 269 passing yards despite getting beaten up.

"To come down here and respond the way we did, especially against a good football team, is going to be big for us down the road," Flacco said. "I think we definitely have a much more calm state of mind because we have been in a lot of games like this before."

The Ravens offensive line, which has been the focus of Baltimore’s offensive struggles so far this season, battled. It allowed too much pressure and was to blame for the pick-six. But it also paved the way for a season-high 133 rushing yards.

A week after having just five carries, running back Ray Rice punched in two touchdowns and churned out 74 yards.

The defense was stout, holding Miami to just 22 total rushing yards and a handful of big plays. Miami had just 294 total yards. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs had three sacks, all in the fourth quarter.

“Our defense played dominant football,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “Terrell Suggs was just off the scale.”

The Ravens trailed by a touchdown at halftime before the offense finally came alive to take a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. But it wasn’t going to be that easy.

The Dolphins tied the game on Flacco’s pick-six with eight minutes, 23 seconds remaining in the game. It was gut-check time in the 90-degree Miami heat.

Baltimore rallied with a seven-play, 34-yard drive to win the game on a 44-yard Justin Tucker field goal with 1:42 left.

The Dolphins hit a 46-yard pass on their final drive with less than two minutes left in which quarterback Ryan Tannehill scrambled and hit a diving Brandon Gibson. But the defense stopped Miami from there to force the long field-goal attempt that went wide.

“It wasn’t perfect. The offense and defense, both sides of the ball were making plays that needed to be made to win the game,” Suggs said. “We stayed together. Through all the adversity, we stayed together.”

It was a back-and-forth game throughout the day.

The Ravens opened with yet another big play by wide receiver Torrey Smith, who finished with six catches for 121 yards. Smith hauled in a short third-down pass with one hand and jetted up the sideline for a 41-yard gain. That set up a 42-yard field goal by Tucker to take a 3-0 lead.

But the offensive line and run game continued to struggle, short-circuiting the offense in the first half. The Ravens ran 15 times for just 33 yards (2.2 per carry) in the first two quarters.

Baltimore made a trade for left tackle Eugene Monroe on Tuesday, but he wasn’t ready to play and was inactive. Bryant McKinnie started at left tackle. Then starting left guard Kelechi Osemele went out with back spasms after the first series and was replaced by backup center A.Q. Shipley.

Ray Rice fumbled deep in Ravens territory and it was recovered by former Raven Dannell Ellerbe. It’s Rice’s fifth fumble in his last eight games, including the postseason last year. That gave Miami a 37-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3.

Flacco hit a 43-yard play to tight end Ed Dickson, who struggled mightily in the first quarter of the season, early in the second quarter. But the Ravens again stalled and settled for a 50-yard field goal to take a 6-3 lead.

The Dolphins offense began to find success against the Ravens secondary late in the second quarter.

Tannehill hit a 49-yard gain to speedster Mike Wallace, who got behind safety Matt Elam and cornerback Lardarius Webb. Miami was held to a 25-yard field goal to tie the game at 6-6.

Miami drove down the field at the end of the first half and took a 13-6 lead on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to tight end Charles Clay. It was a back-shoulder throw and cornerback Jimmy Smith turned the wrong way.

Baltimore’s offense scored its first touchdown on the first possession of the second half. The 6-play, 80-yard drive was aided by two pass interference penalties for a collective 55 yards. Rice plowed into the end zone from two yards out to tie the score at 13.

The Ravens offense continued to move the ball on its next drive. Baltimore stayed patient with the running game, then hit a 40-yard play to Tandon Doss. Flacco got drilled as he released the ball, but hung in just long enough. Doss made a nice adjustment on the route to haul in the pass.

The Ravens stalled inside the red zone and got a 25-yard field goal from Tucker to take a 16-13 lead.

Baltimore’s offense finally started to find its legs.

Backed up at their own 6-yard line, Bernard Pierce broke off the Ravens’ longest run of the season, a 28-yard gain off right tackle Michael Oher. Flacco stood tall and hit Smith for back-to-back first downs, then Rice took it in from two yards out for a touchdown, giving the Ravens a 23-13 lead.

“To let our offensive line line up and get after people, that felt pretty good,” Rice said. “[Offensive Coordinator] Jim [Caldwell] didn’t let his foot off the pedal. No matter how it looked, we were going to run the football. And that’s a good feeling.”

But just when things were going right for the Ravens, they shot themselves in the foot again.

Clay came free behind the secondary for a 45-yard gain, setting up a 48-yard field goal by Sturgis, cutting the Ravens’ lead to a touchdown. Then the offensive line woes reared again.

Dolphins pass rusher Dion Jordan easily beat McKinnie around the edge and hit Flacco’s arm as he was throwing. The ball fluttered high into the air and was easily intercepted by safety Reshad Jones, who strolled 25 yards into the end zone to tie the game at 23.

“Stuff like that happens,” Flacco said. “It was still a tie game with a lot of game left and we knew we had to go win it.”

The Ravens offense punted to the Dolphins, but Suggs took over. He dropped Tannehill twice on one series to get the ball back to Baltimore’s offense.

Baltimore’s offensive line and running game started to wear the Dolphins down. Rice ran twice for six yards each. Then Flacco used play action to find Smith for a 14-yard gain. Rice ran twice more for eight yards to set up Tucker’s game-winning 44-yard kick.

“In this heat, the 1-yard run becomes a 3-yard run,” Harbaugh said. “And a 3-yard run becomes a 7-yard run. That’s what happened.”

The Ravens moved to 3-2 while the Dolphins fell to 3-2. Baltimore is still in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC North.

“Coach [Harbaugh] was saying, through adversity, that’s when you find out who your real self is,” Ihedigbo said. “We found out who the real Ravens are. That’s Ravens football right there, fighting no matter what the circumstances look like to get a win.”


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