Ravens stay aggressive, earn blowout win over Dolphins
Baltimore wins 38-6, snaps Miami’s 6-game winning streak
— 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
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.”
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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.