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Ravens and Dolphins: Live Game Grades and Analysis for Baltimore

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 29: Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens rolls out against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 29, 2013 in Orchard Park, New York.Buffalo won 23-20.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Kristopher KnoxFeatured ColumnistOctober 6, 2013

The Miami Dolphins played host to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in an important AFC matchup.

While the upstart Dolphins managed to hang with the defending Super Bowl champions for most of the day, the Ravens made enough plays to pull away late and squeak out a three-point victory.

Final Score: Baltimore 26, Miami 23

Game Analysis for Baltimore

Pass Offense: The Ravens moved the ball adequately through the air, but their passing attack was certainly nothing special.

Quarterback Joe Flacco completed 19 of his 32 pass attempts for 269 yards but did not manage to find the end zone.

Even worse, Flacco’s habit of throwing to the other team showed up in the second half. After throwing five interceptions against the Buffalo Bills last week, he nearly cost the Ravens the game with a pick-six in the fourth quarter this week.

Run Offense: Baltimore has been trying to get back to the ground game and it showed this week.

Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined for 38 carries, with Rice receiving the bulk of the work.

Rice averaged just 2.7 yards per carry against an improved Miami defense, but he scored twice and helped shorten the second half after the Ravens took the lead.

Pass Defense:  The Ravens were good, but not great against the pass in this game.

The Baltimore defense allowed Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill to pass for over 300 yards, but it managed to make enough plays late to prevent Miami from regaining the lead after it was relinquished in the second half.

Tannehill was victimized by six sacks and consistently found himself under pressure. His 307 passing yards do not seem as impressive considering the only way Miami was able to move the football was through the air.

Run Defense: Baltimore’s run defense continued to thrive in the second half. Miami was unable to grind out yards on the ground when playing with the lead early in the third quarter and completely abandoned the tactic when playing from behind late.

Lamar Miller finished the game as Miami’s leading rusher with a mere 15 yards on seven carries.

The Ravens' stout run defense essentially made Miami one-dimensional in this game offensively.

Special Teams: Baltimore’s special teams unit avoided big mistakes and made a few key plays when needed.

Kicker Justin Tucker was perfect on all four field-goal attempts, including the game-winner.

Coaching: Sticking with the running game proved to be the right strategy in this game, and it is difficult to find criticism in a victory.

However, it is a little concerning that the Ravens had so much trouble with a one-dimensional offense.

Of course, if you take away safety Reshad Jones’ interception return for a touchdown, Miami easily could have lost by 10.

The decision to put the ball in the hands of Flacco late in the game with a lead would undoubtedly come under more scrutiny had the Ravens lost this game.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 06: Receiver Tandon Doss #17 of the Baltimore Ravens makes a catch against defensive back Reshad Jones #20 ofthe Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on October 6, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Ravens defeated the Dolphins
Marc Serota/Getty Images

First-Half Analysis for Baltimore

Pass Offense: Quarterback Joe Flacco has not made any major mistakes in this game, but that’s about the best thing that can be said about the Ravens' passing offense through the first half.

Last week, Flacco tossed five interceptions against the Buffalo Bills. It is an encouraging sign that he has taken care of the football in this contest.

However, Flacco has completed just 50 percent of his passes (7-of-14). He does have 131 yards passing, but a large chunk of his production came on a 41-yard strike to Torrey Smith early in the game.

Run Offense: Running the football continues to be a problem for the Ravens, just as it was in last week’s loss to Buffalo.

Ray Rice has just 26 yards on 11 carries (2.4 average) and coughed up the football on the game’s only turnover.

Pass Defense: The Ravens managed to contain Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins' passing attack for much of the first half.

However, Baltimore allowed the second-year signal-caller to drive Miami down the field for a touchdown right before the end of the second quarter.

If the Ravens can continue to defend against the pass like they did early, they will be able to stay in this game.

If the defense performs like it did on Miami’s final drive, the Dolphins may be able to pull away in the second half.

Run Defense: The Dolphins have accomplished nothing on the ground in this game, which is a reflection of both the state of their offensive line and the ferocity of Baltimore’s run defense.

The Ravens have been swarming to the ball-carrier each and every time the Dolphins try to gain yards on the ground.

Miami’s leading rusher, Lamar Miller, had just six yards on six carries in the first half.  

Special Teams: Kick returner Deonte Thompson has been one of the few bright spots for Baltimore in the first half.

The second-year pro returned two kicks for an average of 41 yards per return in the first half, setting the Ravens up with solid field position.

Outside of Thompson, the Ravens special teams unit has been average.

Coaching: Head coach John Harbaugh does not have his team looking like a true playoff contender in this game.

The Ravens find themselves down by a touchdown to a Miami team that has been extremely one-dimensional on offense, which is a definitive reflection of the team’s game-planning.

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