Sunday, October 6, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Baltimore Ravens
By Jamison Hensley
MIAMI -- A few thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 26-23 victory over the Miami Dolphins:
What it means: The Ravens (3-2) kept pace in the AFC North and remain tied for first place by beating the Dolphins (3-2). It wasn't pretty, but a shorthanded Ravens offense remained committed to the run (first time Baltimore gained more than 100 yards rushing this season) and their defense continually put pressure on Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill (six sacks). Rebounding after tough losses has been a trend under coach John Harbaugh. Since 2008, the Ravens are 21-7 after losses.
Sweating it out: The Ravens had an impressive 94-yard touchdown drive in the second half, but it was a 34-yard one that won the game for Baltimore. With the score tied at 23, Joe Flacco hit Torrey Smith on a 14-yard pass to put the Ravens in field goal position. Justin Tucker's 44-yard kick put the Ravens ahead 26-23 with 1:46 remaining. It marked the 16th career game-winning drive for Flacco. The Ravens had to sweat out a 57-yard miss by Caleb Sturgis, who went wide left with 33 seconds left.
Stock watch: Rising: Linebacker Terrell Suggs. He continues to look like the NFL Defensive Player of the Year from two years ago. He recorded three sacks, including two on a critical fourth-quarter series. Suggs now has seven sacks this season and at least one in each game thus far.
Redemption for Rice: Running back Ray Rice fumbled once again but also scored two touchdowns. He powered his way for a 2-yard touchdown in the third quarter, tying the game at 13. This made up for a fumble earlier in the game, which had led to a field goal. Dating back to the playoffs, Rice has fumbled five times in eight games.
Another costly turnover: A week after getting picked off a career-worst five times, Flacco had an interception returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter that tied the score at 23. But much of the blame can go to left tackle Bryant McKinnie or to the play call. On third-and-22, Flacco threw from his own goal line and was hit from behind by Dion Jordan, who beat McKinnie on the quarterback's blind side. Offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, who was acquired this week in a trade, was inactive after only two full practices with the team.
What's next: The Ravens return home to play the Green Bay Packers. It will be Baltimore's first home game since Sept. 22.