Week 5 of the NFL season saw the Baltimore Ravens traveling to sunny Miami and squaring off against the 3-1 Miami Dolphins. Miami was a surprise 3-0 team before getting demolished on Monday night against the New Orleans Saints last week. The Dolphins are a pretty good team this season and really gave the defending Super Bowl champions a run for their money. In this game Baltimore looked a lot better offensively than they did the previous week against Buffalo. The most important thing about this game was that it is a road win. We all know Baltimore can win at home, what they need to do to make the playoffs is win a couple of road games to give them a better push toward the playoffs. Doing this against good teams will build confidence and really move things along. As for the game itself. Baltimore played well on both sides of the ball for the most part. There were a few missteps on both sides that lead to some detrimental plays against the Ravens. The running game picked it up a bit this game. Baltimore didnt shy away form the run game and used it more in the red zone than they had been previously this season. I imagine Eugene Monroe will be aiding in the upswing of the Ravens running game next week against the Packers.
- The Ravens rushed for 133 yards as a team. Not bad for a team that was not running the ball well at all the first 4 weeks of the season. Rice had 27 attempts this game for 74 yards. While that only averages out to 2.7 yards per attempt he did manage to find the end zone twice as the Ravens showed a lot of confidence in their premier back. They also threw to Ray Rice 7 times. He caught 6 of those for 28 yards. Nothing stellar but its good to see Rice getting involved in the passing game more. He is a fantastic receiving back and can really make some big plays in the passing game too.
- Flacco played well despite getting thrown around all game by the Dolphins. He completed some really big passes on the run and throwing off of his back foot. While he didnt throw for a touchdown there we some throws that he made that set the Ravens up to score big. There were some negatives in Flacco’s game as well, but for the most part he made the plays that he needed to.
- Torrey Smith had another 100+ yard game. I think its time to start taking notices that Torrey Smith is having himself one hell of a season. He has 556 yards on 27 catches. That’s 20.6 yards per catch. Not to mention in every game he’s played in he has caught for over 80 yards and is actually, with the last two weeks really bumping this average up, averaging 111.2 yards per game. A lot of people wondered whether or not he’d be able to handle the pressure of being a #1 receiver. 1/4 of the way through the season, I think he’s got it covered.
- Another positive I want to note in the receiving column isnt all that special but Ed Dickson caught two passes for 51 yards and didnt drop a single pass. He had been having a scary case of stone hands the first 4 weeks of the season but he looked really good against the Dolphins. While it was only 2 catches one of them was a big 43 yards pass. Tandon Doss also looked pretty good, he had 3 catches on 5 targets for 58 yards with his longest catch being for 40. The drops were definitely down this week.
- Its really unfortunate that you have to look at the negatives when your team wins. The game was exciting to watch and really close. Lets start with Ray Rice. I know that I just praised him for having a pretty good game. But the quality back that he is he should not be averaging 2.7 yards per attempt. Yes he had 2 touch downs. Yes he had 102 all-purpose-yards but the fact of the matter is that his longest run of the day was 7 yards and it took 27 rushes to only muster 74 yards. He did run for big first downs and 2 touchdowns, but we need to see him finding better seams to attack so he can get into the open field and make people miss. Also he fumbled in the game. While it didnt lead to any points, the Ravens need to start protecting the ball more.
- Joe Flacco also had some missteps. He forced a lot of passes that could have been interceptions and did end up throwing an interception that was brought back for 6 points to tie the game in the 4th for the Dolphins. Luckily for the Ravens a combination of good defense and poor catching ability on the part of the Dolphins resulted in Baltimore’s late game field goal being enough to close things out.
- The offensive line was abysmal at times. Joe Flacco had Dolphins in his pocket all game and was constantly throwing off of his back foot to avoid defenders. He was only sacked twice and put on the ground 6 times, but the Ravens offense line definitely didnt help things and alleviate the pressure. They played well at some points, mostly the times where the Ravens could get good drives going, but there were other times where they looked really bad. Hopefully Eugene Monroe can come and and play better than Bryant Mckinnie, though I dont think too many people could play worse that McKinnie has been playing.
- The Ravens first quarter woes continue. The Ravens have yet to score a touchdown in the first quarter since week 1 when Joe Flacco connected with Vonta Leach against the Broncos.
- I’ll start with the obvious positive from this game. The Balitmore Ravens pass-rush was absolutely swarming the whole game. They ended up with 6 sacks on the day and former defensive player of the year Terrell Suggs had 3 of those 6 sacks. Dumervil, Upshaw, and McPhee also had sacks in the game. The defense also put a lot of pressure on Tannahill throughout the game. While Tannahill did throw for over 300 yards the Ravens only allowed 1 offensive touchdown. The rest of the Dolphin points came off of field goals and turnovers.
- The Ravens run defense completely shut down the Dolphins run game. The Dolphins only had 22 rushing yards on 11 attempts. The Ravens locked down a part of the Dolphins offense that, before this game, hadnt looked too fantastic to start the season. The Ravens only made things worse for the Dolphins in that regard. They had 9 tackles for loss as a team.
- The defense played spectacularly in the final minutes of the game (minus one big pass to Brandon Gibson on the Dolphin’s last drive of the game). Actually from the point of the game where Charles Clay caught his touchdown pass the Ravens defense played really well. They shut the dolphins out in the 3rd quarter and only let the Dolphins score 3 points in the second half.
- The Ravens gave up a handful of big plays down field that could have ended very poorly if the Defense didnt buckle down afterwards and force a field goal instead of giving up 6 points. I’ll give the defense that much credit, when they backed themselves into a corner by giving up big plays, they have constantly redeemed themselves this season by holding the other team to a Field Goal.
- The Ravens need to start forcing more turnovers to help out the offense. Forcing punts a lot is nice, and holding the other team to filed goals in the red zone instead of touchdowns is great, but the Ravens defense needs to start giving he offense some good field position once and a while. It takes a lot of pressure off the offense when they can start their drives occasionally from better filed position than the 20-yard line. That being said the offense also has to capitalize off of the turnovers the defense does force, its a two way street and the Ravens have to do a better job with the gifts they’re given.
- Justin Tucker was 4/4 with his field goals against the Dolphins.3 of them came from over 40 yards with the longest being from 50.
- The return men Deonte Thompson and Tandon Doss did a good job this week of gaining yards on the returns and giving the Ravens some good starting points for drives.
- Actually got one to talk about! Sam Koch had an off day. The Ravens’ punter is one of the best in the league but he only managed to 34.2 yards per punt this week and a couple of his punts didnt look so great coming off of his foot. Probably just an off day for the Koch, everyone has one and I dont think the Ravens need to worry.