Five instant takeaways: Baltimore Ravens 38, Miami Dolphins 6
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill recovers a snapped ball that he fumbled in the first half against the Baltimore Ravens. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
- We thought run defense was an issue, but about covering those tight ends. Miami came into the game allowing more than 12 yards per reception and five touchdowns to tight ends. It was pretty easy to forecast Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta in line for a good game. Linebacker Kiko Alonso, who often is assigned the opposing tight end, started despite a hamstring injury, then left briefly with a hand injury. Jelani Jenkins, who has knee and hand injuries, did not start. Miami had an awful time covering Pitta (two first-half touchdowns) but other Ravens tight ends named Darren Waller and Nick Boyle got into the action, too. Miami’s linebacker and safeties didn’t always seem to have ideal communication and, frankly, didn’t do enough to cover the middle of the field. All day. And too many times this season. The absence of Reshad Jones showed up in the game. The absence of a second or third impact linebacker showed up in this game.
- Where was the ferocious pass rush? The Dolphins have invested so much money in its front four. Yet in the first half of Sunday’s game, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco dropped back to pass 34 times — 34 times! — and was not sacked. In order for the Dolphins to get off the field on third down and in order to give its secondary a chance, Ndamukong Suh, Andre Branch and Cameron Wake must make significant impacts on the game. They did not stand out at all on Sunday. Flacco’s jersey was clean all day. The Ravens had some injury concerns of their own along the offensive line and Miami did not make them pay. Miami’s defense actually allowed an 18-play, 88-yard scoring drive in the second quarter that took nearly nine minutes. On that drive, Baltimore converted four third-downs and one fourth down (all converted passes). Miami had no sacks, no tackles for loss and only two quarterback hits on Flacco before he checked out with nine minutes to play.
- Ryan Tannehill does not excel in a tough situation. In the third quarter, Tannehill threw behind intended receiver Jarvis Landry and a tipped pass was intercepted. Later in the third quarter, Tannehill held the ball too long when he could have thrown it away after a designed roll-out. In the fourth quarter, Tannehill was throwing for Kenny Stills but came up short on a throw for his third interception of the day. It was the first game Tannehill has thrown three interceptions this season. Tannehill barely had the ball in the first half. Miami had only 24 plays; Baltimore had 41. DeVante Parker played with a back injury. And offensive linemen Branden Albert (wrist) and Laremy Tunsil (shoulder) held up decently. It certainly wasn’t entirely Tannehill’s fault but he didn’t rise to the level of play he had established in the previous six games. Tannehill has rightly been celebrated for his performances in November. But how he performs in December games at Baltimore, New York and Buffalo will be critical components in the body-of-work evaluation.
- Kicker Andrew Franks could be a concern. The Dolphins had a chance to pull within 7-3 in the first quarter but Franks missed a 46-yard field goal wide left. The Dolphins passed on a 53-yard field goal try last week. And the Dolphins strongly suggested it was not a reflection on their confidence in the second-year kicker. But Franks has now missed field goals of 27, 24, 50 and 46 yards on 17 tries. The Dolphins have correctly pointed out Franks entered the game 28-for-28 on extra points.
- DeVante Parker makes a statement to teammates. Earlier in the week there was every indication that Parker would miss this game with a back injury. But through an aggressive pregame routine watched by Gase and team executives, Parker was able to convince them he could play after not practicing all week. On Friday, Gase said he Parker wanted to play through pain for his teammates. This is a critical step forward. In the fourth quarter, Parker caught a touchdown in the back right corner of the end zone, fully extended, keeping both feet in bounds.
Check out a cool photo gallery from Sunday’s Dolphins at Ravens game