Adam Beasley recaps the Dolphins' loss against Ravens
That's the sound of the Dolphins' winning streak crashing to Earth.
Everything that went right for Miami during its six-game run went horribly wrong in the Ravens' 38-6 demolition of the Dolphins Sunday.
Ryan Tannehill threw the ball to the wrong team (he had three interceptions).
The pass defense was a sieve (Joe Flacco roasted the Dolphins for 381 yards and four touchdowns on a franchise-record 36 completions).
The Dolphins didn't get much production on the ground (62 yards as a team).
And they couldn’t get off the field (Baltimore converted 5 of 11 third downs and both fourth-down tries).
Put it all together, and it added up to the worst showing by this team all year.
“A wake-up call,” was how Branden Albert characterized it. “I think we had been riding high. Sometimes you need it.”
Added defensive end Andre Branch: “I'm fine with us competing until the end and it don't go our way, but we didn't compete from the start.”
The Ravens got the ball first and Flacco immediately began carving up the Dolphins' defense. On that first drive, he completed passes to six different receivers, including Terrance West, who capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown catch.
Drive 2 was just like Drive 1. Flacco went 5 of 7 for 69 yards and another score, this time to Dennis Pitta for 13 yards.
But those were simply the opening acts for the most demoralizing Dolphins defensive series in recent memory.
There were 11 minutes, 7 seconds left in the first half when the Ravens, up 14-0, took over on their own 12.
Eighteen plays later, Flacco and Pitta connected for another score. The drive, which actually went 103 yards because Baltimore was docked 15 by officials, took 8 minutes, 57 seconds off the clock.
There was more than a half of football still to play. But the game was over.
“We've got to find a way to get off the field,” said Dolphins defensive back Michael Thomas. “We get them in third down, that's been our MO the whole season. Getting teams in third down and get off the field. That's on us.”
Added Branch: “I don't care if it was 23 plays, as long as they don't score. That's our mindset and that's my mindset. We didn't do that.”
Attempting to cover the middle of the field would have helped. The Dolphins’ thin depth at linebacker finally became a liability, particularly after Kiko Alonso left the game with a thumb injury. Jelani Jenkins didn’t suit up at all due a litany of ailments.
So that left the likes of Neville Hewitt, Spencer Paysinger and Mike Hull to hang with Pitta, who before Sunday last caught a touchdown pass three years ago this coming Thursday.
It didn’t work.
Flacco completed 14 of 15 passes in the middle of the field in the game’s first half.
“You’re trying everything you can, and then you start going first down, second down, third down, and it’s just third-and-short, third-and-short,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said of Baltimore’s marathon drive. “You’ve got to try and get a negative play in there.”
They couldn’t all day.
Of all the mind-boggling stats from Sunday -- the Ravens had 496 yards of offense, 28 first downs and got a 55-yard field goal from Justin Tucker -- this one is the most telling:
Miami did not record a tackle for loss.
“The Ravens had a great offensive day against us,” defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “Flacco did a great job getting the ball out quickly before we could get near him.”
Tannehill, meanwhile, had arguably his worst game of the season. He completed 29 of 40 attempts for 226 yards, a touchdown and the three picks -- two of which came deep in Baltimore territory.
The Dolphins were inside the Baltimore 40 in each of their first three drives and came away with no points.
That was a big reason the Dolphins got boat-raced even with an efficient day from Jay Ajayi. The Dolphins running back averaged 5.1 yards per carry against the league’s No. 1 rush defense, but only got 12 carries because Miami played catch-up all day.
The Dolphins (7-5) will now be playing catch-up for the foreseeable future.
They entered Sunday as the AFC’s sixth seed in in control of their own destiny. But they wake up Monday on the outside looking in, because all the teams they’re chasing -- New England (10-2), Oakland (10-2), Kansas City (9-3) and Denver (8-4) -- won. Plus now they have to worry about being caught by the resurgent Ravens and Steelers, who are also both 7-5.
“I told them one loss can’t become two,” Gase said. “Can’t feel sorry for ourselves. ... One week everybody loves you, the next week you’re terrible, so just move on to the next week.”