(Our Chris Fischer worked Dolphins-Ravens sideline for CBS TV Sunday)
A coin flip was the closest battle the Dolphins lost on Sunday in 38-6 Baltimore beat down. Joe Flacco put a death grip on the game from the opening flip and never relinquished until his backup was called in to action in the fourth quarter.
The Ravens carved holes in Miami’s zone coverage defensive scheme from the onset. Flacco connected on 12 of 15 on the opening two drives, injecting juice in to a rabid bird fan base at M&T Bank Stadium. Already struggling in the first quarter with a negative a twenty-four-point differential, the Dolphins allowed back-to-back touchdown drives.
“We felt the big thing they were going to do was get the ball out quick and we had to tackle the catch, and we didn’t do that,” said Fins coach Adam Gase. “They were able to runaway from us.”
The Ravens executed their defensive game plan to the letter, as they contained QB Ryan Tannehill in the pocket, and held RB Jay Ajayi in check. Unlike other number one ranked defenses (against the run) Ajayi has faced in the past couple weeks, the Ravens closed gaps and were successful at gang tackling.
“We had nothing that really jumped started us, we just couldn’t make any plays,” said Gase.
There was a glimpse of hope in the second quarter until Tannehill tossed a ball in to the end zone, ending in a tremendous interception by S Lardarius Webb.
Trailing 24-0 at the half, I asked Gase going in to the locker room “what did his passing attack need to do get going?” He replied, “I like what were doing offensively, were getting past the fifty (yard line) we just need to sustain drives.“
While Miami was able to get points on the board in the second half sparking the thought of a comeback, he Ravens quickly ripped it away with another interception.
“The way the front seven brought the pressure, it made it so much easier for the back end to get the turnovers today,” said Webb.
Defensively Miami could do little to get pressure on Flacco. During his post game interview, the only speck of a grass stain on his number five jersey came from a high snap. Despite running back Terrence West finding the paint to put the game out of hand in the fourth quarter, the Ravens rushing attack was practically nonexistent. Flacco utilized the linebacker mismatches on his favorite target Dennis Pitta for two scores (Pitta’s first two touchdowns of the season)
“Our offensive line played lights out, and it starts up front,” said Pitta. “When (Flacco) has time he can be a dangerous quarterback.”
So, gone is the Dolphins six-game winning streak, and controlling their own playoff destiny as the sixth seed. A blowout loss is still a loss, even if its the fifth defeat out of the six games to the Ravens. Who just may happen to be the team the Dolphins end up seeing in the playoffs. If they can rebound from this shellacking.
QUICK SLANT TAKEAWAYS:
The Dolphins pass rush was ineffective. When I asked Flacco on the field post game (see above), if they even touched him, he said, “You know, I don’t know.” A quarterback should now if defensive pressure got to him, that response was a prideful response to the job the Ravens offensive line did.
While linebacker/DE Terrell Suggs compared RB Jay Ajayi to Ezekiel Elliott as a fierce runner, The Dolphins’ British back couldn’t be utilized effectively as Adam Gase’s offense was forced to throw the ball to get back in to the game. Ajayi’s 61 yards rushing on 12 carries was good enough for 5.1 yards per carry. But for the fourth straight game he was held under the century mark in total yards.
I talked to C Mike Pouncey prior to the game, he said the hip injury is healing, and that he should be making his return soon.
From the “Did You Know” file: Gase got his start in coaching thanks to Ravens Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees? Pees was recruiting Gase’s high school teammate when he met Gase. Gase talked to Pees about going in to coaching.
When Gase arrived on campus at Michigan State, Pees who worked under Nick Saban then, put Gase to work as a student assistant working on self scouting reports. Pees said of the 100 or so student assistants Gase stood out.