The first place Ravens took on the Miami Dolphins, winners of six straight games, in Week 13, and the Ravens put forth by far their best game of the season.
Start of Game
The Ravens started with the ball first and moved the ball with efficiency. Flacco hit on six of his seven passes on the drive, to six different players, including a 23 gain to Steve Smith Sr. At the Miami three yard line, Flacco found Terrance West on a flair route into the flat, who caught the pass and ran it into the end zone. Flacco’s strong performance to start the game showed that the Ravens offense truly is capable of being proficient despite how much it has struggled.
On the Dolphins opening drive, the Ravens top ranked rush defense struggled to contain Jay Ajayi, allowing 27 yards on just four carries. But the Ravens secondary did not leave any room for Ryan Tannehill to throw, and a pass breakup by Tavon Young on a third-and-two from the Ravens 28 forced the Dolphins offense off the field. The Dolphins brought on kicker Andrew Franks, who would pull the ensuing 46 yard field goal to the right, keeping Miami off the board.
The Ravens offense would come back on the field, and Flacco’s excellent passing held up. After a penalty on Vlad Ducasse set the Ravens backs, Flacco recovered. The Ravens went for a fourth-and-one from the Ravens 46, and hit Flacco Kenneth Dixon on a screen pass who bounced it outside for a 10 yard gain. On the next play, Flacco found Nick Boyle over the middle for a 20 yard gain. Once inside the red zone, Flacco found Dennis Pitta over the middle for a 13 yard gain, and a touchdown. Flacco now sits at 11/14 passing and 136 yards, in addition to two touchdown passes.
TOUCHDOWN BALTIMORE!— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 4, 2016
Flacco ➡️ Pitta. Automatic. pic.twitter.com/ZJyrxk3ZBo
The Dolphins continue to be able to move the ball against the Ravens however, as Ajayi brings his total up to 41 yards on six carries, and has picked up tough yards for the Dolphins. Ajayi is the number one back in the NFL in broken tackles, and he has proven why so far. A taunting penalty on Timmy Jernigan helped move the Dolphins across midfield as the quarter expired.
The #Ravens pitch a shutout in the first quarter for the fifth straight game.— Luke Jones (@BaltimoreLuke) December 4, 2016
Start of Second Quarter
While Ajayi continues to lead the Dolphins down the field, mistakes by Tannehill have set the Dolphins back, none more so to this point than a ball lobbed into the end zone toward Devante Parker, a pass that was intercepted on a spectacular catch by Lardarius Webb.
But the offense failed to capitalize, as Flacco threw an interception on the Ravens first play. Flacco had rolled out of the pocket, and couldn’t find anyone open. His pass was thrown in the direction of Mike Wallace, but instead went right to Dolphins corner Byron Maxwell. After a hot start from Flacco, this was the last thing the Ravens offense needed.
The #Ravens offense just can't stand too much prosperity, can it? Brutal interception thrown by Joe Flacco.— Luke Jones (@BaltimoreLuke) December 4, 2016
But at least there is some good news that comes with the Flacco pick.
The Ravens defense would force a three-and-out, but after laying out a huge hit on RB Damien Williams, rookie corner Tavon Young went down with a left shoulder injury. Young looked in pain as he walked off the field. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun first reported that Young is questionable to return. The rookie has had an impressive rookie season, and the Ravens will likely need him in order to have success across the field from Jimmy Smith. (Update: Young would return to the game, starting the second half)
The Ravens offense would get right back to form however. Flacco has had incredible success over the middle of the field, exposing the Dolphins linebackers and slot corners. Steve Smith, despite a foolish facemask penalty, continues to be huge for the Ravens, seemingly undeterred by his age. Smith converted both a third and fourth down on this drive, both on passes to the left sideline.
2-for-2 on gutsy calls today.— Ryan Mink (@ryanmink) December 4, 2016
The offense continued to roll after the conversion, with Joe Flacco eventually finding Dennis Pitta over the middle from the Miami nine yard line. Pitta would make the catch, and run it in for his second touchdown of the day, capping a 18 play 88 yard drive than ran off almost nine minutes, and extending the Ravens lead. This is the fourth time Flacco has had three touchdowns passes in the first half in his career.
Just a note, the Ravens best two offensive games of the year (today and against the Browns in Week 10), have both seen the use of purple end zones............
The Ravens defense would force yet another short Dolphins drive, only allowing 123 total yards in the first half. Dominant.
The Ravens would get the ball back with :59 seconds and two timeouts, a drive executed to perfection. The Ravens were able to move the ball across midfield, and set Justin Tucker up with a 55 yard field goal with four seconds on the clock. That’s just too easy for Tucker.
What. A. Half
End of First Half
First Half Notes
- Offense - The offense was absolutely ROLLING in the first half. Flacco hit on 27 of 34 passing attempts for 258 yards and three touchdowns. Yes, the Ravens aren’t running the ball, but Flacco has played well enough today that it hasn’t mattered.
- Defense - The Ravens pitched a shutout in the first half, and only allowed 123 yards. The Dolphins only crossed midfield one time in the first half.
- Special Teams - Justin Tucker hit a 55 yard field goal. Best kicker in the NFL.
First Half Winners
- Joe Flacco - His stat line is listed above, and he has been spectacular. Flacco has been keying in on the middle of the field, and has consistently found holes there.
- The defense - First half shutout, and just 123 yards allowed.
- Dennis Pitta - Pitta has two touchdowns and 56 yards on six catches. You would never know he has had two hip surgeries from watching him today. He continues to fearlessly go over the middle and pick up tough yards.
First Half Losers
- Vlad Ducasse - Just stop with the penalties already. Ducasse killed one long to Dennis Pitta with a holding call, and picked up a second holding call later in the first half.
- Running backs - The running backs haven’t been bad, but the Ravens are rolling with the hot hand, and that is Joe Flacco. The Ravens only have seven rushing attempts in the first half. It’s working so far, but the Ravens offense can’t be that one dimensional long term.
Start of Second Half
The Dolphins received the ball to start the second half, and moved 46 yards to Ravens 29, leaning heavily on the pass and Jarvis Landry. When looking for Landry from the Baltimore 29, Tannehill’s pass defelcted off of Landry and Jerraud Powers, the ball floated up in the air, and landed in the hands of Eric Weddle for the interception. Weddle brought the pick back 53 yards to the Dolphins 45.
The offense would do nothing, going three-and-out. John Harbaugh decided to punt, despite being inside Justin Tucker’s range (by in his range, I mean on the Dolphins half of the field). A 16 yard punt by Koch set up the Dolphins with decent field positioning.
The Ravens defense would hold serve again. The Dolphins are leaning heavily on the pass to get back into the game, but they have only picked up short gains in doing so. A fantastic sack in the open as Tannehill rolled out of the pocket, forcing a nine yard loss. This was Judon’s fourth sack of the year. Tannehill would take a deep shot on the next play, third-and-18, and strong coverage by newly returned Jimmy Smith forced on the punting unit.
Flacco came out hot on the next drive, completing five straight passes, including a 23 yard gain to Dennis Pitta. However, two consecutive drops by rookie wide receiver Chris Moore forced another punt.
The defense would go on to force a three and out, and the Ravens defensive line showed what it is capable of. On a third-and-13 from the Miami 21 yard line, Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs both were seemingly shot out of a cannon on the edges, closing the pocket in on Tannehill instantaneously. Suggs came from the blind side, and Tannehill back right into him to avoid Dumervil. Tannehill got the pass off has Suggs hit him, but the hit was enough to force a bad pass that fell to the ground.
Start of Fourth Quarter
The Ravens started out the fourth quarter in the worst possible fashion. Dennis Pitta picked up a first down on, shockingly, a pass over the middle. But a hit on Pitta knocked the ball out, the Dolphins returned the fumble to Ravens eight yard line.
The Dolphins would score on their first play, as Tannehill found Devante Parker in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown. The Dolphins would go for two, but Tavon Young and C.J. Mosley kept Jarvis Landry short of the goal line.
Flacco and the Ravens would respond quickly, as the offensive line continues to give Flacco almost too much time to throw, if such a thing was even possible. After finding Terrance West for a first down, Flacco found Breshad Perriman over the middle. Perriman used the speed that made him a first round pick in 2015, and brought the short pass 53 yards down the field for a touchdown. Speed kills.
4 plays.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 4, 2016
Ravens 31 | Dolphins 6 pic.twitter.com/Ve37IYrwOo
The completion was Flacco’s 36th of the game, a career high according to Jamison Hensley.
A Brent Urban sack in addition to three Dolphins penalties yet again forced the Dolphins off the field quickly.
Ryan Mallett would start under center as the Ravens offense came back on the field. The Ravens would go three-and-out.
On the fifth play of the Dolphins ensuing drive, Tannehill looked toward the sideline to tight end Dion Sims, but did not see Jerraud Powers. Powers jumped at full extension to come up with the interception, setting the Ravens up at the Miami 41 yard line.
The ensuing Ravens drive saw the Ravens utilize the run with a 17 yard Kenneth Dixon rush followed by a 15 yard West rush, which punched it into the end zone for his second touchdown of the day.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 4, 2016
This Dolphins team has tapped out. West runs it in from 9 yards and the Ravens lead 37-6 pending extra point.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) December 4, 2016
The Ravens would run out the rest of the clock, ending the game.
End of Game, Final Score: 38-6 Ravens
There you go @thephinsider , your Baltimore Beatdown— Kyle P Barber (@BMoreBeatdown) December 4, 2016
Second Half Notes
- See “Second Half Winners”
Second Half Winners
- Pretty much everyone - Everyone played well and contributed the Ravens best effort of the season. The unsung hero was the offensive line. Flacco was nearly untouched in the game, and had so much time to throw on every play. Flacco played one of the best games of his career, completing 36/47 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns. PItta was the featured receiver, totaling 90 yards and two touchdowns, despite a fumble. West also had two touchdowns. The defense nearly pitched a shutout, with the only score coming via a Pitta fumble that set up the Dolphins at the Ravens nine yard line. The entire Dolphins offense was absolutely suffocated.
Second Half Losers
- Running plays - The running backs had just 10 total carries before Ryan Mallett came into the game. Yes, it worked today, but the offense needs to be more balanced long term.
The Ravens moved to 7-5 with the win, and retained their hold on first place. The Ravens will receiver a stern test next week as they take on the Patriots in Foxboro on Monday Night Football.