It wasn’t the prettiest win for the Baltimore Ravens this season, but they still managed to dominate the Miami Dolphins, 26-10, on Nov. 7 to advance to a 6-2 overall record and stay atop of the AFC North.

The Ravens’ offense visited the red zone on eight occasions, but scored only two touchdowns due to untimely mistakes and penalties. Quarterback Joe Flacco took a few sacks for significant negative yardage, and several false starts and delay of game penalties backed Baltimore out of easy field goal range, resulting in two missed field goals by Billy Cundiff.

But in between the mistakes, the Ravens still scored on two touchdown catches by veterans Willis McGahee and Derrick Mason. Cundiff added 12 more points to the Ravens’ total with four converted field goals. But the Ravens probably didn’t need the extra points, as their defense held Miami to just one score. Miami scored on their first drive of the game with a 12-yard touchdown run by Ronnie Brown, but reached the red zone only once afterward, which resulted in a missed field goal.

Most Outstanding Player of the Game:
Flacco put on one of his most impressive performances this season, completing 20 of 27 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns, while also finishing with a season-high 129.6 passer rating. This marked the third straight game Flacco has recorded a passer rating above 100.0. He has also thrown 11 touchdowns and only one interception in his last six games.

Unsung Heroes of the Game:
The Ravens’ secondary struggled against Buffalo two weeks ago, giving up nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns, so many expected Miami’s talented receiving corps to have similar success. Instead, Baltimore’s secondary silenced the critics, limiting the Dolphins to just 231 passing yards. Miami quarterback Chad Henne finished with a horrible 47.5 passer rating and tossed three interceptions into the hands of Ravens’ Ed Reed and Lardarious Webb as well as Josh Wilson, who did a fine job replacing a struggling Fabian Washington in the second half.

“Josh is here for a reason. He’s a guy that’s had a lot of success,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He made a great play with the interception at the end, which was gigantic. Then, out of the gates in the second half, he made a nice play on a great receiver . I think he played well.”

More Game Notes:
For the first time this season, the Ravens played an entire game without punting. Veteran punter Sam Koch took the field once during the second half, but instead of kicking the ball, he ran a fake punt and passed the ball to uncovered special teams gunner Cary Williams for a first down.

“If they’re going to give you that look and they’re not going to cover the gunner, you want to have an answer for that and it’s not an easy answer to have,” Harbaugh said of the special teams specialist who is responsible for being the first man downfield to cover punts. “So for our guys to have the confidence to check to that play and for them to pull it off, make a throw and catch, is impressive.”

Despite the untimely penalties in the red zone, Baltimore’s offense produced across the board. Third-year tailback Ray Rice finished with 180 total yards including 97 yards receiving and 83 yards rushing. Mason led the receivers with four catches for 42 yards and a touchdown.

“Our offensive balance was good but it wasn’t great,” said Mason, who played with an injured hand. “We played good for stretches of the game, including the second half but there were a lot of opportunities that we missed.”

Next Up:
The Ravens won’t have any time to go over the mistakes made against Miami (4-4 overall); they have only three-and-a-half days to prepare for a Thursday night special matchup on Nov. 11 against the Atlanta Falcons (6-2).

“It’s pretty crazy, we’ve never done this before so it’s not going to be like a normal Monday tomorrow,” Flacco said. “We’re going to be preparing for Atlanta instead of correcting what we did against Miami. I think it will be pretty easy for us, though…I think as long as we concentrate, everything else will take care of itself.”

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor