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Ravens Eye View: How the Ravens Flipped the Script on the Dolphins

QB Lamar Jackson
QB Lamar Jackson

The Ravens dismantled the Miami Dolphins, 56-19, to capture the AFC North crown and prove they're the NFL's team to beat heading into the playoffs.

Let's take a dive into the film to see how the Ravens had such a dominant showing:

Lamar Jackson was in complete command.

Those watching the Ravens every week know the improvements Jackson has made in the passing game, but critics pointed to his stats and wondered why he was getting so much praise.

Jackson shut that up with a perfect passer rating against the Dolphins, completing 18-of-21 passes for 321 yards and five touchdowns.

Diving into the film shows the totality of what Jackson did right against the Dolphins. It was the total package.

As he's done numerous times this season, Jackson made special throws off-platform throws or while being hit in the legs. His 33-yard bomb to Odell Beckham Jr. and 35-yard fourth-down touchdown pass to Isaiah Likely were prime examples.

Jackson also did a fantastic job diagnosing the Dolphins' defense.

Head Coach John Harbaugh gave credit to Jackson for the two connections to Hill on the Ravens' first offensive drive of the game.

"Lamar saw the coverage, diagnosed it a couple of times and got us into certain routes that freed Justice up on some of those rail routes," Harbaugh said. "That was pretty impressive to see those two guys working together at the line of scrimmage like that."

Dolphins aren't the only ones who can be creative offensively.

Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel is known for his creative scheme and motions, but he's not the only one who can get receivers wide open.

Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken was in his bag in this game and busted out some new interesting wrinkles.

Jackson had a spectacular performance, but four of his five touchdown throws were to receivers who had 5.5 yards of separation from the nearest defender at the time they caught the ball. They were wide open.

On the 75-yard touchdown from Jackson to Zay Flowers, Jackson dropped as if he was a left-handed thrower before flipping his hips and launching the ball deep down the sideline.

The intention was to help Likely cut off the backside edge defender by making him respect Jackson running outside. The lefty draft also drew Miami's secondary in that direction, resulting in a coverage bust on the other side between Dolphins cornerback Eli Apple and linebacker Duke Riley.

The Ravens repeated similar concepts on the opening drive with the Hill rail routes (the second going for a touchdown) and they repeated concepts again on their touchdowns to Likely (the wide-open 7-yarder near the start of the second half) and 4-yard fourth quarter dagger to Patrick Ricard. On both of those, the tight end basically bluffed as a blocker before leaking out.

Ravens defense (once again) made the right adjustments.

It looked like it could've been a long day for the defense when the Dolphins offense went on an eight-play, 75-yard march down the field for a touchdown on its opening drive.

Miami zoomed down the field again on the second drive, picking up 65 yards in just four plays, but settled for a field goal after Tyreek Hill dropped a touchdown.

Baltimore's defense settled down after that, however, and made key halftime adjustments.

The Dolphins gained just 43 yards (3.1 per play) in the second half, as Mike Macdonald basically stopped sending extra pressure. The Ravens sent five or more pass rushers on a season-low 9.3% of the Dolphins' dropbacks, per Next Gen Stats.

Linebacker Roquan Smith specifically adjusted after the Dolphins hit some passing plays behind him. Smith took deeper drops and broke faster on what one specific play the Dolphins had basically run earlier in the game, resulting in a one-handed interception and tipped pass that Geno Stone picked off.

This isn't the first time the Ravens defense has made the right adjustments. They did so after the Rams had early success running against them. They did again after the 49ers went 74 and 52 yards, respectively, on their first two drives of the game.

Baltimore's ability to adjust will serve it well come the playoffs when the Ravens will surely face more potent and creative offenses.

Special teams unit is now routinely making positive splash plays.

Baltimore's special teams group was on the wrong side of some big plays earlier this season, with a punt return for a touchdown against them in Week 2, a punt blocked in Week 5, and field goals and an extra punt also blocked.

Now, the Ravens have flipped the script.

The Ravens won on Tylan Wallace's walk-off overtime punt return for a touchdown against the Rams, got a big 38-yard punt return (including the penalty) against the 49ers, and hit a 78-yard kick return from Hill against the Dolphins.

The play against the Dolphins was a fake to the right and cut-back to the left, led by Wallace as the point guard. The rest of the blocks were perfect and Hill's speed up the sideline did the rest.

"It's like the old thing; 'Preparation meets opportunity,' and those guys have been out there at practice. You see them every day; they practice early, and they work hard," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "That particular return, we've been working on for about six weeks, and it's a little cut-back return that we had, and it was executed beautifully."

The Ravens now have three returns this season of at least 70 yards from three different players (Hill, Wallace, and Devin Duvernay). In upcoming playoff games that likely won't be such blowouts, big plays on special teams can be the difference.

Extra Points

  • Hill's conversion on third-and-16 on the Ravens' first drive of the game increased their chances of winning by 6.6%, which is a tremendous amount for so early in the game. It was a huge (and very familiar) play.
  • Without Kyle Hamilton (knee) and Brandon Stephens (ankle), and after Marlon Humphrey (calf) went out early in the game, the Ravens' backup defensive backs – particularly Arthur Maulet and Ronald Darby – shined. Even with a banged up secondary, the Ravens held Tyreek Hill to six catches for 76 yards.

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