On Saturday, the Baltimore Ravens faced the Dolphins in Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Although it was Baltimore’s fourth preseason game, it was the Dolphins’ third, as the Ravens played the extra game during Hall of Fame weekend. The game began with a slow start for both teams, as the score remained low for the entire first half. By the second half, the Ravens started to kick into gear, and began scoring points and making plays on defense. The game finished as the Ravens won with 27 points to the Dolphins’ 10. The Ravens move on to face the Redskins in the final game of the preseason on Thursday night.
The Ravens could not manage to get points on the board early, as the starting offense did not take the field. The Dolphins sent out starting units on both offense and defense for the entire first half. This created a mismatch that the Ravens could not overcome. While Robert Griffin III has played well for most of the preseason, Saturday night was a bit of a rollercoaster. Griffin was more inaccurate than usual, but the offensive line provided no assistance. Griffin was under siege constantly while on the field, as the offensive line was porous. The most abused on the offensive line was Jermaine Eluemunor, who consistently got beat and run over. The Ravens were eventually able to put a long drive in near the end of the first half but had to settle for a field goal.
By the second half, Baltimore was finally able to hit the gas. Miami pulled the starters, giving the Ravens a more balanced playing field. Lamar Jackson, now in at quarterback, stunned everyone with his first impressive performance in the NFL. In the previous three games, Jackson looked lost and at times, incapable of playing quarterback in the league. Against the Dolphins, massive improvement was on full display. Jackson finished the night with seven completions on ten attempts, for 98 yards, and two touchdowns. One touchdown came through the air, on a pass to DeVier Posey, and the other came on a 19-yard run on the ground.
On the ground, the Ravens saw a large cast of characters make an impact. The leading rusher of the night was De’Lance Turner, who took off for a 65-yard touchdown run in the second half. He finished the night with five rushes for 75 yards and one touchdown. The other two undrafted rookie running backs, Gus Edwards and Mark Thompson, got in on the action as well. Edwards ran the ball 16 times for 38 yards. Thomson carried the pigskin four times for 17 yards, and impressed in the receiving department, with three catches for 25 yards. Kenneth Dixon, who is fighting to hold on to his roster spot, carried the ball five times for just two yards. Dixon found better luck catching the ball. He hauled it in three times for 18 yards, including one play where he made four defenders miss.
Tim White, battling Janarion Grant for a roster spot, gave the coaches something to remember with his three reception, 70-yard game. White led the team in receiving yards. Behind him were DeVier Posey and Jordan Lasley. The wide receiver battle will rage on to the very last day, as Baltimore continues to look for two receivers the team can develop. Grant, who caught one ball for eight yards, and Jordan Lasley lead that fight. White’s performance, however, brings his stock back up.
White and Grant are not just fighting over a receiver slot, but the starting return specialist one. Grant returned for three of four quarters uninterrupted. The Ravens finally gave White a chance in the fourth quarter. It is clear that Grant currently has the upper hand in this aspect, but White cannot be ruled out just yet. The preseason game against the Redskins will likely solidify one or the other on the roster.
Defensively, the Ravens did fairly well against the Miami starting offense. Missed tackles played a big role in the first ten points Miami scored, as Baltimore could not seem to wrap anyone up. Albert McClellan, Tavon Young, and Tony Jefferson all fell victim to the missed tackle disease. The defensive line was a unit that did not see this issue. The defensive line, led by players like Brent Urban, was able to stuff runs and apply pressure to quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who fumbled the ball multiple times. The linebacker who most impressed was Kenny Young, the rookie out of UCLA. Fighting for a starting job, he clearly out-performed Patrick Onwuasor, who got beat down the field in coverage. Young made great tackles on players who gave the Ravens fits, like Kenyan Drake.
The secondary also performed admirably. Despite his missed tackles, Tavon Young was able to defend passes well, preventing completions for first downs. Marlon Humphrey also demonstrated his skill. On one tackle, he pushed the upper body of the ball carrier before the lower body. He did this because the player was near the first down marker, and that push forced him back, preventing a first down gain. Stanley Jean-Baptiste caught an impressive interception on a deep ball, making it his second consecutive week with a pick. Safety Chuck Clark also got in on the action with an interception.
Overall, the Ravens played two very different halves of football. In the first, Baltimore could barely get the ball moving, only scoring three points, but held Miami to just ten. In the second half, Baltimore’s offense exploded, gaining the Ravens 24 additional points, while holding Miami to zero. The win for the Ravens marks the 12th consecutive Ravens preseason win. While it means little, it is still an impressive feat that not all can achieve. The Ravens are set to face off against the Washington Redskins this Thursday, in the final preseason game of the year. While the Ravens do not necessarily care about winning the game, each player on the bubble does.