Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Quarterback Joe Flacco scored three touchdowns and linebacker Elvis Dumervil recorded 3.5 sacks to lead the Baltimore Ravens to a desperately needed 28-13 win over the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 7 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Fla. The win advanced the Ravens to a 8-5 record and pushed them into the lead in the hunt for the sixth and final wild card seed of the upcoming NFL AFC playoffs.
Both teams needed a win today as they each carried a 7-5 record into the contest – Miami was holding tight to the lead for the sixth seed but a loss to Baltimore dropped them down in the hunt, allowing the Ravens to take their place for now in the playoff race. The win also helped the Ravens’ chances of surpassing the Cincinnati Bengals for the AFC North division crown; the Bengals (8-4-1 overall) lost to fellow AFC North member the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5 overall) on Sunday.
Baltimore had to overcome a 10-0 deficit in the first quarter as its offense struggled to get things going early in the game. The Ravens experienced three straight three-and-outs on offense during their first three offensive possessions. They finally put together a decent offensive possession their fourth time taking the field, but a dropped pass in the end zone by veteran receiver Steve Smith Sr. led to an intercepted pass by Flacco on the following play. Fortunately for the Ravens, their defense clamped down on Miami and forced a punt, leading to a 97-yard scoring drive for Baltimore on their following possession, capped off with a short touchdown pass from Flacco to Smith Sr. just seconds before halftime.
Baltimore Ravens wide receivers Kamar Aiken (11) and Jacoby Jones (12) celebrate after Aiken scored a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
The Ravens then went on to dominate Miami in the second half, outscoring the Dolphins, 21-3, during the final two quarters as Flacco scored two more touchdowns and Forsett ran for another to push Baltimore to the 28-13 victory.
Flacco completed 25-of-33 pass attempts for 269 yards, two touchdowns, one interception for a 108.6 passer rating. He also ran for 16 yards and a 1-yard touchdown to seal the victory in the fourth quarter.
Smith Sr. led all receivers with seven catches for 70 yards and a touchdown, despite dropping an easy touchdown catch in the first half. Rookie receiver Kameer Aiken caught six passes for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Ravens running back Justin Forsett was bottled up most of the game as Miami game-planned to stop him, but he eventually broke free for a 44-yard run late in the game and ended up with 13 carries for a game-high 71 rushing yards. Backup running back Bernard Pierce ran for 50 yards and fellow reserve back Larenzo Taliaferro added 35 yards as the Ravens racked up 183 rushing yards total in the game.
On defense, rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley led Baltimore with eight tackles, seven made solo and former Defensive MVP Terrell Suggs followed up with six total tackles, including 1.5 sacks. But Dumervil was the most outstanding player on defense for the Ravens as he sacked Miami quarterback Ryan Tannenhill 3.5 times, pushing him into Ravens immortality as he became the team’s all-time single season sack leader with 16 recorded so far this season.
Next: Baltimore (8-5 overall, 2-3 AFC North) will host the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11 overall) at M&T Bank Stadium on Dec. 14. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. EST.