Ravens end Miami's perfect road startNov 7, 2010 - 10:39 PM
Ray Rice caught seven passes for 97 yards and added 83 yards on 22 carries for the Ravens (6-2), who were fresh off a bye week and extended their home winning streak to seven straight dating back to last season.
Flacco completed 20-of-27 passes and was not intercepted. Derrick Mason and Willis McGahee caught touchdown passes for Baltimore, which had 20 plays of more than 10 yards and did not punt while outgaining the Dolphins 402-289.
"We were a lousy tackling team today and we gave [the Ravens] opportunities by not getting people on the ground a couple of times out there," said Miami head coach Tony Sparano. "[We] didn't execute calls properly, check downs to backs end up being big plays. I don't think we forced a punt the whole day, so that's not very good."
Miami (4-4) lost for the first time on the road in five tries this season. The Dolphins' four losses have come against arguably the AFC's top teams -- the Jets, Patriots, Steelers and Ravens. It doesn't get any easier next week when Tennessee visits Miami.
"I think it's obvious right now we can't beat the great teams," remarked Miami receiver Brandon Marshall. "We can't beat the good teams. I can't put my finger on it. We just shoot ourselves in the foot when we get to the big stage."
Chad Henne threw for 231 yards on 22-of-34 passing with three interceptions in defeat, and Ronnie Brown had a solid day with 59 yards on nine carries and a touchdown along with five receptions for 40 yards.
The Dolphins trailed by just three at halftime and started the third quarter with possession, but went three-and-out. The Ravens followed with an 81-yard drive to extend their lead to 20-10. Flacco hit Rice out of the backfield three times for 61 yards during the nine-play set and capped it with a 12-yard throw to Mason.
"I definitely felt that I would be able to take advantage of one-on-one opportunities out there," Rice said. "I was working on linebackers most of the time. Even if I'm last in the progression, if Joe hits me with the pass, I can turn that five yards into 15 as long as I'm in space. Joe was seeing me today, which was great."
Miami was again forced to punt and the Ravens quickly marched across midfield with the aid of a big Flacco pass to Rice. Shortly after, Miami cornerback Sean Smith had an easy interception -- and a clear field ahead of him -- slip in and out of his hands. The Ravens were forced into fourth down and set up in punt formation from the 39, but ran a perfect fake as Sam Koch threw a perfect strike to Carey Williams for 13 yards and a first down. The play led to a 37- yard field goal attempt, but Cundiff pulled it left in the final minute of the third quarter.
Dan Carpenter missed a 46-yard field goal try for Miami with 12:43 left in the contest to keep it a 10-point game and Baltimore drove 61 yards in 13 plays for a 20-yard Cundiff field goal to increase the lead to 23-10 with 6:45 remaining.
Ed Reed then picked off a tipped Henne pass to set up a 24-yard Cundiff field goal for a 16-point margin with 2:07 to play. Miami's last possession ended in a pick by Josh Wilson.
"I thought the early red zone issues were a problem for us, so I'm really proud of the way our guys kept their composure, came back in the second half, executed and found a way to win," said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.
The expected defensive battle began with both teams scoring on lengthy opening drives.
Baltimore went 76 yards in seven plays with the game's first possession. Flacco keyed the march with a 23-yard pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh to convert a 3rd-and-2, then soon after found McGahee with a screen pass and the back wove his way through the Miami secondary for a 32-yard touchdown play.
The Dolphins answered with a 75-yard drive in 11 plays for the tying score. Brown gashed the Baltimore defense for 26 yards on two carries to start the series and Miami converted a pair of short third downs before Brown burst through the right side of the line for a 12-yard touchdown run.
Back came the Ravens with a drive that ended in a 26-yard field goal by Cundiff and Lardarius Webb then picked off Henne and returned the interception to the Miami four-yard line. However, the Baltimore offense went backward from there and came up empty thanks to a penalty, a pair of sacks and a mishandled snap on a field-goal try.
The Ravens got the ball back after a punt and tacked on another field goal from Cundiff, this one from 39 yards away with 2:55 left in the half. Miami then marched inside the Baltimore five in the final minute and had to settle for a 19-yard Carpenter field goal after Henne missed a wide open Anthony Fasano in the back of the end zone on third down from the one.
"We had to play to execute and we didn't execute," Sparano said of his team's missed opportunities. "You know, [missing] guys open. Dropped interceptions. You do things like that, that's just not good."
Reed, who missed the first six games of the season after undergoing offseason hip surgery, has three interceptions in two games since coming off the physically unable to perform list...Carpenter's fourth-quarter miss ended his string of 14 straight made field goal attempts...Mason had four catches for 42 yards and McGahee finished with three receptions for 42 yards...The all-time series is now even at 5-5, which includes two Baltimore playoff victories. The teams last met in the first round of the playoffs after the 2008 season, a 27-9 Baltimore win in Miami...Baltimore has a short week and will visit Atlanta on Thursday.
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