Ravens stay ag­gres­sive, earn blowout win over Dol­phins

Bal­ti­more wins 38-6, snaps Mi­ami’s 6-game win­ning streak

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com

— Dur­ing the week, Bal­ti­more Ravens quar­ter­back Joe Flacco crit­i­cized the team’s in­abil­ity to stretch open­ing scores into com­fort­able fourth quar­ter leads.

On Sun­day, the Ravens found a way to re­main ag­gres­sive, as they scored three touch­downs and a field goal in the first half and found the score­board twice more fol­low­ing the break to earn a dom­i­nant 38-6 vic­tory over the vis­it­ing Mi­ami Dol­phins at M&T Bank Sta­dium on Sun­day.

“We’ve been stuck at 10 [points] re­ally, in prob­a­bly four or five [of our pre­vi­ous] games. To put the pedal to the metal, as you say, to con­tinue to make plays … it looked like you want it to look,” Bal­ti­more head coach

BAL­TI­MORE

John Har­baugh said. “It was just a heck of a team vic­tory. It is some­thing that has been in our minds. Our vi­sion is how we played to­day as a team. It’s what we’ve been work­ing for, and it’s nice to see it hap­pen.”

Flacco, who con­nected with 11 dif­fer­ent re­ceivers, com­pleted a fran­chise- record 36 com­ple­tions on 47 at­tempts as he fin­ished the game with 381 pass­ing yards, four touch­downs and one in­ter­cep­tion. With the game out of reach, he was lifted with a lit­tle over nine min­utes re­main­ing and re­placed by backup quar­ter­back Ryan Mal­lett.

It marked the Ravens’ (75) largest mar­gin of vic­tory this sea­son and al­lowed the team to main­tain first place atop the AFC North. The win also snapped the Dol­phins’ (7-5) six-game win­ning streak.

“It all came down to the fact that I don’t think we were able to fin­ish Cincin­nati off last week like I re­ally wanted to. It’s ob­vi­ously a lot bet­ter to play in a game like this than to have to strip­sack the quar­ter­back on the last drive and put your de­fense in that spot, and that’s re­ally what it came down to, is just the frus­tra­tion to not be able to re­ally [con­tinue scor­ing] in last week’s sec­ond half,” said Flacco, re­fer­ring to last week’s 19-14 win over the Ben­gals. “I think it gives guys a lot of con­fi­dence to see it and to have done it.”

For a third-straight week, Bal­ti­more scored on its open­ing pos­ses­sion, as Flacco con­nected with run­ning back Ter­rance West for a 3-yard touch­down pass. The short scor­ing strike capped a 79-yard drive in which the quar­ter­back com­pleted passes to six dif­fer­ent re­ceivers.

It rep­re­sented the beginning of an over­pow­er­ing first two quar­ters for Flacco and the Ravens, who used the no-hud­dle of­fense al­most ex­clu­sively to gen­er­ate scor­ing drives of 63, 88 and 48 yards, re­spec­tively. Tucker’s 55-yard field goal —his 35th-con­sec­u­tive good at­tempt—gave Bal­ti­more a 24-0 ad­van­tage as time ex­pired.

The first half was also high­lighted by a pair of touch­down catches by tight end Den­nis Pitta (nine catches for 90 yards), who found the end zone for the first time since Dec. 8, 2013—his fi­nal sea­son be­fore he suf­fered a sec­ond­ca­reer ma­jor hip in­jury that pre­vented him from see­ing the field again un­til 2016.

“I think that some­body men­tioned my last touch­down was in 2013, and that was a long time ago. It feels good to get back in the end zone and ob­vi­ously, to have the kind of win, and team win, and of­fen­sive pro­duc­tion that we had to­day was huge,” Pitta said. “Hope­fully, of­fen­sively, we can con­tinue to put it to­gether like we did to­day and come out with wins. We are get- ting healthy at the right time, and we feel good, and we feel like we have the mo­men­tum go­ing at the right time.”

Early in the fourth quar­ter, Flacco con­nected with re­ceiver Bre­shad Per­ri­man on a short route, who turned and out­raced de­fend­ers for a 53-yard touch­down. West then rum­bled for a 9-yard touch­down two pos­ses­sions later to round out the Ravens’ scor­ing.

“It was a great vic­tory. Ev­ery­thing was just click­ing,” said West (10 car­ries for 50 yards). “Shout out to Joe for a ca­reer-high. Our of­fen­sive line did a great job.”

De­fen­sively, the Ravens sacked Dol­phins quar­ter­back Ryan Tan­nehill twice and pro­duced three in­ter­cep­tions, in­clud­ing an ath­letic pick in the end zone by safety Lar­dar­ius Webb early in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Safety Eric Wed­dle added an in­ter­cep­tion on a tipped pass and re­turned it 53 yards into Mi­ami ter­ri­tory, while cor­ner­back Jer­raud Pow­ers also had a pick in the game’s fi­nal min­utes for the Ravens, who gave up their lone score in the third quar­ter when Mi­ami cap­i­tal­ized on a turnover in the red zone.

One play af­ter safety Michael Thomas re­cov­ered a fum­ble by Pitta and re- turned it 27 yards to the Bal­ti­more 8-yard line, Tan­nehill con­nected with re­ceiver DeVante Parker for the quick score. The Dol­phins then failed to con­vert the 2-point con­ver­sion.

The Ravens then re­sponded with a four-play, 75-yard touch­down drive that ended with the catch-and-run by Per­ri­man, who show­cased the big-play abil­ity that en­cour­aged Bal­ti­more to select him in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Tan­nehill fin­ished 29-for40 pass­ing for 226 yards, three in­ter­cep­tions and one touch­down. Mean­while, Dol­phins run­ning back Jay Ajayi to­taled just a dozen car­ries for 61 yards against the NFL’s top rush­ing de­fense.

Of­fen­sively, Bal­ti­more fin­ished with just 20 to­tal rush­ing at­tempts for 110 yards, com­pared to 50 pass­ing plays.

“Mi­ami was a team that has been down 17-0, down 17 points in the sec­ond half and has won games. So, we un­der­stood that and we knew that, so we were never re­ally com­fort­able with the lead,” Ravens wide re­ceiver Steve Smith said. “We knew what they were ca­pa­ble of.”

Fol­low Jor­dan Schatz on Twit­ter: @Jor­dan_Whig

LLOYD FOX/BAL­TI­MORE SUN/TNS

Bal­ti­more Ravens quar­ter­back Joe Flacco (5) passes on the run in the first quar­ter against the Mi­ami Dol­phins on Sun­day at M&T Bank Sta­dium in Bal­ti­more. Flacco fin­ished 36-for-47 pass­ing for 381 yards and four touch­downs. The Ravens de­feated the Dol­phins, 38-6.

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