It was a great football Sunday in Baltimore. After hearing murmurs about Miami’s impressive road record all week, the Ravens came out strong and turned in a dominant performance, beating the Dolphins 26-10. When you take into account the fact that 7 of the Dolphins’ 10 points came on their first drive, that’s quite a performance. Coming out of the bye week, the Ravens looked sharp, quick, and to sum it up in a word, stellar.
Like any game, there were some weak spots. Some players didn’t quite step up, and there were some questionable coaching decisions (ahem….red-zone playcalling…ahem). I’ll address the Le’Ron McClain spitting incident, and do a quick little recap.
- 7-0, Ravens: Willis McGahee catches a short screen pass from Joe Flacco, runs behind strong blocking and makes some shifty moves to scamper 32 yards for a touchdown. (12:08, 1st quarter)
- 7-7, Tie: Ronnie Brown caps off a full-field drive by the Dolphins with a 12-yard touchdown run. (5:23, 1st quarter)
- 10-7, Ravens: Billy Cundiff hits a chip-shot 26-yard field goal after some poor red-zone playcalling from Cam Cameron costs the Ravens an opportunity at a touchdown. (14:13, 2nd quarter)
- 13-7, Ravens: Billy Cundiff hits a 39-yarder after a Ravens drive that lasted 6 minutes. (2:55, 2nd quarter)
- 13-10, Ravens: Dan Carpenter hits an easy 19-yard field goal to close out the 2nd half for the Dolphins. (0:15, 2nd quarter)
- 20-10, Ravens: Joe Flacco hits Derrick Mason with a beautiful throw on a post pattern for a 12-yard touchdown. (9:23, 3rd quarter)
- 23-10, Ravens: Billy Cundiff hits an easy 20-yard field goal to further the Ravens’ lead. (6:45, 4th quarter)
- 26-10, Ravens: Cundiff hits his fourth field goal of the day from 24 yards out to put the game out of reach for the Dolphins. (2:07, 4th quarter)
- Ray Rice: The Ray Rice we all know and love returned yesterday for the Ravens. Rice had 29 touches for 180 total yards, including a memorable 34-yard catch and run. While he only averaged 3.8 yards per carry, he showed the quickness, lateral movement ability, and the knack for finding holes to burst through that made him so successful last season. While he wasn’t able to break into the end zone, he had one of the top all-around offensive performances by any Ravens player thus far.
- Joe Flacco: Flacco turned in a great performance for the Ravens. Completing a stellar 20 of 27 pass attempts for 266 yards, with two touchdowns on top of that and no interceptions shows a solid game on the stat sheet. Besides what you’ll find in the box score, he was poised in the pocket, utilized his blocking, and sold the play action very well. Minus one Sean Smith dropped interception, which was due to a great read by Smith, Joe Cool did not throw one pass that should have been intercepted, which is always a good thing. Although he didn’t utilize the talents of finally-healthy Donte’ Stallworth, Flacco spread the ball to six different receiving options, a great way to keep a defense guessing.
- Lardarius Webb: After the defense turned in such a fine performance, you can’t leave a defensive player out of the Three Stars. While it was tough to single out a player, Webb turned in a fine performance. Take away two plays where he was the smallest bit lazy in man coverage, and the sophomore cornerback was on top form. Webb had five tackles, a pass deflection, shutdown coverage, and a great interception. And, contrary to Ed Reed, he did not try to lateral the ball whilst being tackled.
Now on to the Le’Ron McClain spitting controversy. First off, I don’t blame him for spitting at Channing Crowder. I’m not into the whole “crossing the line” thing with pre-game smack talk, because I think that frankly, it’s a stupid way to turn emotionally-charged contests into non-events. So Channing Crowder doesn’t cross any line with me, he just annoys me to no end with his stupidity. Saying that Derrick Mason is an old man was stupid, as Mason quickly taught the Dolphins yesterday. Ranting about Anne Frank and Helen Keller and all types of crazy things from left field after the game is also extremely stupid. To be honest, if McClain felt that spitting at Crowder was what the ‘Fins linebacker needed, all the power to Le’Ron. Now, for reason’s sake, it has to be said that spitting at someone is terrible and inexcusable. So, in summary, I feel that the whole drama surrounding “the spit” is unnecessary. Things happen during football games, and this was one of those things. All the media attention, the pundits crying for McClain’s head, it’s all pointless and immature. Forget about the incident, possibly mention it in passing, and just focus on the Ravens’ dominant performance.