By Chris Schisler
The Miami Dolphins beat the Baltimore Ravens 22-10. This isn’t a fun game so let’s get down to the analysis right away.
The mildly good
The Baltimore Ravens run game was on point at the very beginning. Devonta Freeman got the Ravens off to a great start. Freeman looked as spry as any running back has all season this year for the Ravens. Devin Duvernay also picked up a couple of first downs on running attempts. The only other thing to note with the offense, for now, is how good Rashod Bateman looked. He had six receptions for 80 yards.
Don Martindale should be proud of the way his team started this game. The Ravens forced punts on the first three drives. The flow to the football at the start of this game was about as good as it’s been all season. Odafe Oweh ended Miami’s first drive with an impressive sack.
Most of the night saw one of the best games the defensive line had this season. The linebackers were where they were supposed to be. Against an offensive line that was supposed to make them look good, they looked rock solid. Other than two blown coverages, the defense mostly looked the part for the Baltimore Ravens. The Dolphins only scored 22 points and they had a defensive touchdown.
We’re going to skip all the way until the late portion of the fourth quarter. There’s a ton of bad and ugly to sift through. A 99-yard touchdown drive that only took three minutes and twenty-eight seconds got the Ravens back in the game. It was 15-10 with about four minutes left in the action. The Ravens got help from the officials, but they did something to make it a game.
On the first drive of the game, the Ravens were held to a field goal. A delay of game penalty made things harder than they had to be. The Ravens went from a third and manageable to a third and long. Jackson got pressured and didn’t have time to accurately hit Sammy Watkins in the end zone. It was a frustrating three points because the drive looked like a sure six was coming.
The second drive ended in a rare missed field goal by Justin Tucker. On the third-down before the kick, Marquise Brown fumbled trying to pick up extra yards on a wide receiver screen pass. Credit Rashod Bateman for fighting to get the football back. A missed 48-yard field goal gave the Dolphins great field position. Hindsight is 20/20 but going for it there would have made some sense. The Ravens looked good and really owned the first quarter. They had three points to show for it.
The third drive continued the bad start for the offense. Lamar Jackson took an awful sack on third down for a quick three and out. He held the ball too long. The pass protection wasn’t great, yet Jackson had to get out of the pocket and get rid of the football. The offense, for the third straight game, started the game off as if it didn’t even have a plan. It was at that point you knew this was going to be that kind of an evening.
Let’s just call the rest ugly from this point. It was hard to watch.
The downright ugly from the Baltimore Ravens:
The Ravens didn’t have a third-down conversion in the first half. Most of the third-down were bad situations. The Ravens got behind the chains and third down was not working.
The play calling was bad. Take the call on the last drive of the first half. The Ravens called it conservatively and tossed it, Devonta Freeman. He got caught on a play that never developed and the Ravens punted.
The defense was about as good as you could get until the end of the first half. The Ravens allowed a drive that started with less than a minute in the half to get the Dolphins inside the 10-yard line. The Dolphins kicked the go-ahead field goal and led 6-3. One big play gave up the lead. That’s what happens when the offense does next to nothing for 30 minutes of action.
In a game the Ravens had to win, against a two-win team, the Ravens trailed 6-3 at halftime. Lamar Jackson had 82 passing yards. Sam Koch punted four times. It may have been the least exciting two quarters in Ravens history.
The second half started rough for Baltimore offensively. The third down play that got Miami the stop was hideous. Lamar Jackson had nowhere to go, didn’t have a quick outlet that he expected to be there, and got sacked. Words can’t express how discombobulated it looked setting up a 3rd & 15. How do you think that went?
Greg Roman was not on point:
On the next third down failure, the Ravens needed 16 yards. On 2nd and 17, Greg Roman called a conservative run up the gut. He called plenty of screen passes to wide receivers. He called runs like this one by Le’Veon Bell. Roman didn’t seem to have a clue in this game and he failed to adjust to the Dolphins gameplan and the situations the Ravens offense was put in. However, let’s focus on that one play because it’s the whole problem in a nutshell.
In any logical sense, the Ravens needed to get half of the needed yardage. Two yards and a cloud of dust got the Ravens in another impossible third down. The Baltimore Ravens already had been experiencing a failure to launch. Where was the sense of urgency?
The game was in reach and panic was unnecessary, however, the third quarter was more than halfway over. As a play-caller Roman had to force the issue.
The Ravens gave up a Mack Holland sack after a 14-yard completion was taken away by a Dolphins challenge. It’s hard to see what was conclusive enough to take that play away, it’s also hard to see where the blocking was off the edge on the following play.
The Baltimore Ravens defense fell apart at the end:
The Ravens defense was called on to save the day again. They gave up a quick first down to Myles Gaskin on a screen pass. A couple of plays later Jaylen Waddle had a big catch down the field. The defense started to buckle in a game where the offense had done nothing at all. Going into the fourth quarter things were getting desperate. Baltimore knew they had to hold the Dolphins to a field goal.
Albert Wilson picked up a chunk of yards on a screen play that got Miami to the 11-yard line of the Ravens. The reverse play was a good call against an aggressive Ravens defense. The Ravens were very much on their heels.
So what followed that? Marlon Humphrey got called for pass interference in the end zone. It was a call the officials will make every time. The Dolphins had the ball at the one-yard line.
Do the Ravens deserve credit for getting the essential stop? Yes. The Dolphins got a field goal instead of a touchdown. The sequence that got the Dolphins there was some of the ugliest football ever.
This was a game filled with punts and miscues from both teams. When the Dolphins got the game 9-3, the Dolphins were outgaining the Ravens 242 yards to 154.
It wasn’t a bad dream, then it got worse too:
Okay, let’s take a deep breath and get back to the story of this game. On another third and what seemed like forever, Sammy Watkins fumbled. Xavien Howard caused and returned the fumble for a touchdown. The Baltimore Ravens trailed the Ravens 15-3 with just over 11 minutes left in the game. Sammy Watkins was bad in this game and probably should have had a touchdown on his stat line.
With 10:50 left in the game, Marquise Brown dropped an underneath pass forcing the Ravens to punt. The call was trying to get Brown to make a guy miss and pick up some yards after the catch. I don’t like the play call. I loathe the mental mistake by Brown.
The Ravens’ defense had a sack-fumble right after that. Patrick Queen tried to pick it up and be the hero. Instead, the Dolphins recovered the fumble and lived to pin Baltimore on their own one-yard line. Believe it or not, a delay of game got the Ravens even closer to their own end zone.
Okay, the Ravens score, and then the Ravens have a blown coverage that got the Dolphins to the 10-yard line. The following play after the big gainer by Albert Wilson the Ravens were penalized for 12 men being on the defense. That’s about as inexcusable as it gets, right? That’s losing football in a two-play presentation.
The Ravens gave up a first down and depleted their timeouts. Then the back already was broken, the last straw was already snapped and, the fat lady sang. A touchdown on the next play gave the Dolphins a 22-10 lead with 2:19 remaining.
Let’s throw away the tape and be done with this one:
This could have been the worst showing in the Lamar Jackson era for the Baltimore Ravens. There’s not a lot of nice things to say. The third loss of the season may be the lowest point of the last three years.
There was just the humbling truth that slow starts from the offense and big plays given up by the defense were going to cost the Ravens at some point. When you look at what happened in this game, there is nothing to be happy about. The one truth that is very apparent is that the Baltimore Ravens have no silver linings.