Upon Further Review: Ravens Week 5

October, 7, 2013
10/07/13
12:30
PM ET
An examination of four hot issues from the Baltimore Ravens' 26-23 win over the Miami Dolphins:

[+] EnlargeRay Rice
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesThe numbers show that getting Ray Rice the ball often spells victory for the Ravens.
Feed Rice the ball: It's important to get the ball to running back Ray Rice, whether handing it off or throwing it to him in space. If you don't believe me, look at the numbers. In Rice’s career, the Ravens are 23-3 when Rice has at least 25 touches and 30-24 when he is active and does not, according to ESPN Stats & Information. When you factor in Rice's 102 yards on 33 touches Sunday, Baltimore has won 20 straight games when he has at least 25 touches. The Ravens have to be careful not to wear down Rice because he's dealing with a hip injury. But you've seen flashes of Rice bouncing back into form, especially in the red zone. He reached the end zone twice Sunday, and if you needed another number favoring him, the Ravens are 22-5 when he scores a rushing touchdown.

Showstoppers: The Ravens' defense is becoming one of the game's top finishers. That is, when it comes to stopping drives or closing out games. On Sunday, the Ravens allowed yards on just three of the Dolphins' pass plays in the fourth quarter. They sacked Ryan Tannehill on four of those 15 dropbacks, including three by linebacker Terrell Suggs, and all four came while rushing just four linemen, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Entering the game the Ravens were tied for sixth on third-down defense, and they were even better against the Dolphins, allowing Miami to convert just 3 of 16 third downs (a season-best 19 percent).

Unexpected contribution: With only three healthy wide receivers, the Ravens needed someone to step up. No one believed it was going to be tight end Ed Dickson and wide receiver Tandon Doss. Both had more receiving yards Sunday than in the first four weeks combined. Dickson caught both passes thrown his way for 51 yards, which is 26 more total yards than he had in the first four games. Doss had three receptions for 58 yards, which was 11 more yards than he'd had.

Going to the extreme: Much of the talk was about the Ravens' commitment to the running game. But it shouldn't be overlooked that Baltimore's defense was committed to stopping the run. Baltimore held the Dolphins to 22 yards rushing, the fourth-fewest ever allowed in Ravens history and the fewest in seven years. The Dolphins basically gave up on trying to run the ball. Miami attempted two runs in the second half -- sound familiar, Ravens? -- and finished with 11 rush attempts. This is quite a turnaround for the Ravens, who gave up 203 yards to Buffalo a week ago.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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