Ravens prepar­ing to play red-hot Dolphins

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com

— For Bal­ti­more Ravens rookie left tackle Ron­nie Stan­ley, there may be no bet­ter player on the team to take ad­vice from than 14-year vet­eran Ter­rell Suggs. While Stanely is prepar­ing for his first post­sea­son push of his young ca­reer, Suggs is gear­ing up for what he hopes is his ninth trip to the play­offs since Bal­ti­more drafted the line­backer in 2003.

With five games re­main­ing in the reg­u­lar sea­son, the Ravens, cur­rently tied for the di­vi­sion lead with the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers, need to make win­ning a habit if they in­tend to punch their first play­off ticket since 2014.

“Ter­rell Suggs has been say­ing it’s a five-game sea­son from here on out,” Stan­ley said. “He’s al­ways told me, ‘I need five fights out of you.’”

That five-game stretch be­gins Sun­day at M&T Bank Sta­dium, when the Ravens (6-5) host the Mi­ami Dolphins (7-4), who have won six in a row.

“Prob­a­bly the main thing is that they’re find­ing ways to win, es­pe­cially at the end of the game,” Bal­ti­more head coach John Har­baugh said Wed­nes­day when asked about the Dolphins. “I think they’ve been down two of the last three, maybe, and scored – down two scores late in the game and found a way to win, get stops and make plays. They have made plays in those sit­u­a­tions. The quar­ter­back, re­ceivers have made plays. Of course, the run game has been good all year, and their de­fense. Their front four is ex­cel­lent. It’s a re­ally ag­gres­sive de­fense. Gen­er­ally, I’d say that’s what they look like.”

The big­gest chal­lenge for the Ravens will likely be stop­ping the ground at­tack of Mi­ami, led by run­ning back Jay Ajayi, who leads the NFL with 730 rush­ing yards dur­ing his team’s six-game win­ning streak. Bal­ti­more will counter with the league’s top rush­ing de­fense (74.9 yards per game).

“That is Raven foot­ball. You do not want teams to run the ball on you. We take

OWINGS MILLS

a lot of pride in that. We take a lot of pride in play­ing de­fense,” Suggs said. “We like to play de­fense around here, and it is a good feel­ing.”

Suggs com­pared Ajayi to Dal­las Cow­boys rookie run­ning back Ezekiel El­liott. Bal­ti­more faced El­liott, the NFL’s lead­ing rusher, two weeks ago, hold­ing the run­ning back to his sec­ond­low­est yards per at­tempt on the sea­son.

“It is the NFL, so you are al­ways go­ing to face a good back, but he is one of those … He has a lit­tle some­thing more to his game, and you are go­ing to like it – just like we had a cou­ple weeks ago,” Suggs said. “We love play­ing against the best and tak­ing the chal­lenges. This is just an­other one; we love them, and we look for­ward to play­ing.”

While the Ravens haven’t won six straight, they do boast vic­to­ries in three of their last four games. Bal­ti­more has av­er­aged 21.3 points per game over that span.

“We play tough games ev­ery year and all sea­son, and some­times you go through tough stretches where you lose close ones, and you aren’t play­ing the best you want to. I think ev­ery­thing is start­ing to come to­gether. I think we are start­ing to get guys healthy. I think we have a more con­sis- tent lineup, and it is lead­ing to more con­sis­tency,” Ravens quar­ter­back Joe Flacco said. “We are start­ing games bet­ter, I think. We are not nec­es­sar­ily fin­ish­ing them out with the foot on the gas, but we are play­ing good foot­ball. I think we are just get­ting more con­sis­tent across the board.”

With both teams fo­cused on fin­ish­ing, ex­pect Sun­day’s con­test to be de­cided late in the fourth quar­ter.

“At the end of the day, it is wins and losses, and you want to win all your games, es­pe­cially in the fourth quar­ter,” Suggs said. “We be­lieve more games are lost than won. We do not want to lose any games, we want to win them. The fourth quar­ter is where you get that done.”

Fol­low Jor­dan Schatz on Twit­ter: @Jor­dan_Whig

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN/TNS

Bal­ti­more Ravens’ Elvis Dumervil (58) cel­e­brates with Ter­rell Suggs and Eric Wed­dle (32) after he sacked and caused Cincin­nati Bengals quar­ter­back Andy Dal­ton to fum­ble to end the Bengals’ fi­nal drive last week. The Ravens will host the Mi­ami Dolphins on Sun­day.

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