The rookie out of Delaware threw for 232 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions as the Ravens moved to 3-3, one of the surprises in the NFL. Last season, Baltimore was 5-11.
The Miami Dolphins are also a surprise football team as they were 2-3 coming in to this game. They owe that mostly to the Wildcat formation, where the Fins do automatic half back snaps to the running back (Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams) who run or pass.
The Ravens weren't convinced the Wildcat formation is successful and they showed it on Sunday. Ronnie Brown ran for 27 yards on 13 carries and Ricky Williams had 16 yards as the Ravens dominated.
After the first drive, Ravens' fans didn't think this outcome was possible. Chad Pennington was torching a depleted Ravens secondary and the drive was capped by a 21 yard field goal by Dan Carpenter.
The Ravens, however, got lucky on the next drive on penalties. On 3rd-and-5, the Dolphins committed a penalty and Joe Flacco ran a QB sneak for two yards and changed the drive. On 3rd-and-26 from the Miami 44, Flacco hit Derrick Mason for a gain of 15. Despite being well short of the first down, the Ravens were in field goal position and Matt Stover nailed it from 47 yards away and it was a 3-3 ballgame.
The Ravens' incredible defense still looked shaky on the next drive. The Ravens didn't allow the Fins to score, but allowed a good amount of yardage. The Ravens couldn't muster anything on offense the next drive, going three-and-out.
The Dolphins handed the Ravens the game the next drive. After a 23 yard pass to Greg Camarillo and runs by Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown, Chad Pennington was pressured and threw the ball right to Terrell Suggs, who ran it back 44 yards for a score, giving the Ravens a 10-3 lead.
The Dolphins got it right back and booted a field goal, making it 10-6, but the interception loomed large.
The Ravens mustered a strong drive following Dan Carpenter's field goal. Joe Flacco was 6-of-8 on the drive with 68 yards passing and one touchdown pass: an eleven yard strike to Derrick Mason, Mason's first touchdown reception of 2008. Trust me, Mason is no small piece of this offense, he's not a touchdown catch receiver.
The Dolphins got it back with twenty five seconds left in the half and wanted to score. They would need it. The Ravens would get the ball back to start the second half. Pennington threw two incomplete passes and got sacked once, so it was 17-6 Baltimore at the half.
The run blocking unit was rejuvenated for the Ravens in the second half. On the opening drive, McGahee had five carries for 45 yards.
The Ravens couldn't take a 24-6 lead on a touchdown, but got another Matt Stover field goal, making it 20-6.
The Dolphins offense looked rejuvenated as well. Everybody in the stadium knew the run wasn't going to work on the Baltimore Ravens. So, the Fins decided to pass. It worked. Pennington was 5-of-5 with 77 yards and a touchdown on the drive and it was suddenly 20-13 Ravens.
In the fourth quarter, the Ravens almost handed the Dolphins the game. After a 35 yard run on a screen pass by Willis McGahee, he fumbled and the Dolphins recovered inside their own ten yard line. It was all for nothing, though, as the Dolphins got a three and out and McGahee scored a touchdown on the next drive.
Joe Flacco: 17-23, 232 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Chad Pennington: 24-35, 295 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Willis McGahee: 19 rush, 105 yards, 1 TD
Ronnie Brown: 13 rush, 27 yards
Derrick Mason: 6 catches, 87 yards, 1 TD
Greg Camarillo: 6 catches, 74 yards
Ray Lewis: 8 tackles
Channing Crowder: 10 tackles