Tag Archive | "dolphins"


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Loss in Miami reminds Ravens just how much Flacco missed

Posted on 06 December 2015 by Luke Jones

There isn’t much worth remembering when looking back at the Ravens’ 15-13 loss to Miami on Sunday.

Rookie wide receiver Daniel Brown fell victim to one of the worst offensive pass interference calls you’ll ever see, but that was barely a drop in an ocean of poor officiating around the NFL in 2015. It’s a problem the league desperately needs to address in the offseason if it cares about maintaining any semblance of integrity with players, coaches, and fans.

But even after the baffling call that wiped out a 52-yard touchdown pass, the Ravens still had 50 minutes to overcome the misfortune that occurred when the game was still scoreless in the first quarter.

On the positive side, rookie Buck Allen continues to look like he’s more than capable of being a No. 1 running back after collecting 170 total yards and 12 receptions, one shy of the franchise’s single-game record for catches. The 2015 fourth-round pick has become the Ravens’ best offensive option — which admittedly isn’t saying much with the current group of weapons — and is doing everything he can to spark an interesting discussion about the future of veteran Justin Forsett in the offseason.

Beyond that, Sunday’s slop-fest between two bad teams only brought a reminder of just how much the Ravens and their fans should appreciate Joe Flacco when he returns to the field next season. As lousy as Miami’s fourth-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill was for the better part of 60 minutes, his turnover-free performance was preferable to the 30 seconds from hell turned in by Matt Schaub late in the first half that turned out to be the difference in the game.

Two interceptions — one serving as a catalyst for a 38-yard touchdown pass to DeVante Parker and the other returned for a touchdown — and 15 points, which were all the Dolphins needed against an undermanned Baltimore offense. Those turnovers overshadowed what was a strong performance by a Ravens defense that has steadily improved against a pedestrian group of opponents over the last month.

Sunday brought final confirmation that the concerns expressed by “amateur evaluators” about Schaub throughout training camp were more than fair. The longtime Houston Texans quarterback just can’t shake the nightmare that began in his final season as a starter in 2013.

The Ravens simply cannot expect to win with the 34-year-old quarterback at the helm. And how could he do it with such a depleted group of weapons around him? His wide receivers on Sunday would be no better than No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 options at best on most teams, and starting tight end Crockett Gillmore became the latest offensive weapon to go down when he left the game with a back injury.

Last week’s win in Cleveland came thanks to two special-teams touchdowns that made up for an interception returned for a touchdown and another ugly pick thrown in the final minute. On Sunday, there was no hiding Schaub’s inability to protect the football.

The Ravens may not have been winning much with Flacco in 2015 — he admittedly wasn’t playing his best football — but the last two weeks have offered a reminder to anyone ever trying to undersell just how important the eighth-year quarterback is to Baltimore’s success. Regardless of where he ranks among NFL quarterbacks, Flacco has proven that he can win you a championship with a good group of weapons around him.

That’s more that you can say about Schaub or Tannehill after watching both quarterbacks flounder on Sunday.

There isn’t much else to say about the 4-8 Ravens, who have now clinched just the second non-winning season of the John Harbaugh era. Another week and another game decided by a single score, but we again watched a team not good enough to overcome back-breaking turnovers, untimely penalties, poor officiating, and a plethora of injuries that have decimated the roster.

You can pick apart the minutia of another loss as much as you’d like, but nothing else really matters when you don’t have a quarterback.

Fortunately, it’s only temporary pain for the Ravens, but it’s a reminder of where this franchise stood for years when it squandered a number of championship-caliber defenses as the likes of Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright tried to play quarterback before Flacco finally came along in 2008.

It’s unlikely to be a fun final quarter of the season with the Ravens facing four teams with winning records and firmly in the race for postseason spots.

So, as you brace yourself and try to take consolation in knowing that losses like Sunday’s only improve their 2016 draft position, just remind yourself how good the Ravens have had it for so long with Flacco at the helm.

And try to erase the memory of Schaub’s ugly interceptions as much as you can.

Comments Off on Loss in Miami reminds Ravens just how much Flacco missed

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 11.12.14 AM

Tags: , , , , , ,

Ravens-Dolphins: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 06 December 2015 by Luke Jones

In search of a win in Miami for the third consecutive season, the Ravens are trying to keep their microscopic postseason hopes alive in taking on the Dolphins in Week 13.

As expected, Baltimore will be without left tackle Eugene Monroe, who was officially declared out after being listed as doubtful with a shoulder injury on the final injury report. Counting the playoffs, Monroe has now missed 12 games in the last two seasons and has started and finished just three games all season.

Second-year tackle James Hurst will start in Monroe’s place, but the Ravens will welcome back starting left guard Kelechi Osemele after a two-game absence because of a knee injury.

The Ravens will be without tight end Maxx Williams (concussion) and wide receiver Marlon Brown (back) for Sunday’s game.

Veteran cornerback Cassius Vaughn will make his Ravens debut after being inactive in each of the last two games.

Meanwhile, Miami has activated both center Mike Pouncey (foot) and wide receiver Kenny Stills (ankle) after they were listed as questionable on the final injury report. The Dolphins will be without starting right tackle Ja’Wuan James (toe), starting receiver Rishard Matthews (ribs), and starting defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (calf) after all three were declared out on Friday.

The Ravens and Dolphins will be meeting for the 11th time in the regular season with the teams tied 5-5 but Baltimore owning a 2-0 postseason edge. In the John Harbaugh era, the Ravens are 5-0 against the Dolphins, which includes a postseason win in Miami in 2008 and a 28-13 victory at Sun Life Stadium last season.

The forecast for Sunday’s game calls for temperatures in the high 70s, a 15 percent chance of precipitation, and winds up to 17 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be John Parry.

The Ravens will be wearing purple jerseys with white pants while Miami dons its white tops with white pants.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

WR Marlon Brown
CB Tray Walker
OT Eugene Monroe
G Kaleb Johnson
TE Maxx Williams
DT Carl Davis
DE Kapron Lewis-Moore

WR Rishard Matthews
CB Jamar Taylor
LB Chris McCain
C Jacques McClendon
OL Ulrick John
OT Ja’Wuan James
DT Earl Mitchell

Comments Off on Ravens-Dolphins: Inactives and pre-game notes


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens-Dolphins: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 05 December 2015 by Luke Jones

Identical records, but two teams seemingly going in opposite directions.

Standing at 4-7, the Ravens only have a microscopic chance of making the playoffs, but they’ve continued to fight under eighth-year head coach John Harbaugh, winning three of their last four games with a roster that’s been completely ravaged by injuries. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins have already fired their head coach and both coordinators this season and have lost four of their last five with all coming by multiple scores.

It’s time to go on the record as Baltimore and Miami meet for the 11th time in the all-time regular-season series with the teams currently tied 5-5. The Ravens are 3-4 at Sun Life Stadium — 5-4 counting the postseason — but they will try to win in Miami for the third straight year.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens try to win their third consecutive game …

1. Miami will attempt to commit to the run, but the Ravens won’t allow that to happen. After running the ball just nine times against the New York Jets last week, interim head coach Dan Campbell fired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and new play-caller Zac Taylor vowed to get the ground game going. That will be easier said than done against a Ravens defense that ranks eighth against the run and has allowed just 3.7 yards per carry this season. Lamar Miller is a solid back, but Brandon Williams and his defensive line mates will swallow up the Dolphins’ ground attack, forcing them to throw the ball more that they would would like as the game progresses. Miami will only rush for 70 yards on the day.

2. Buck Allen and Terrance West will combine to rush for 130 yards. Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman has drawn criticism for his lack of commitment to running the ball, but there is no reason not to stay on the ground against the league’s 32nd-ranked rush defense. Matt Schaub showed against Cleveland that he can make some plays with his arm here and there, but you want to limit his opportunities to make game-changing mistakes, something the Ravens will do on Sunday. Allen and West combined to carry 19 times for 92 yards against the Browns, but they’ll receive more extensive opportunities in an effort to wear down the Miami front in the heat and potential rain.

3. Jarvis Landry will shine for the Dolphins, but DeVante Parker and Jordan Cameron will catch touchdown passes. In his second year out of LSU, Landry is Miami’s best offensive player and will give the Ravens fits with his ability to gain yards after the catch on his way to a 100-yard day. However, the Dolphins will be without starting receiver Rishard Matthews and will need more from Parker, who has just eight catches in nine games after being selected 14th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft. The rookie will shake free for a score. Though Cameron has disappointed with his new team, the Ravens have struggled against tight ends this season and he’ll catch a touchdown inside the red zone.

4. Elvis Dumervil will collect two sacks to once again torment Ryan Tannehill. The Baltimore defense has collected a combined 12 sacks in the last two trips to Miami, and the Dolphins will be without right tackle Ja’Wuan James on Sunday. Dumervil’s six sacks in 2015 don’t tell the story of how well he’s played needing to step into a full-time role with Terrell Suggs suffering a season-ending Achilles injury in the opener. Instead of matching Dumervil against left tackle Branden Albert all day, defensive coordinator Dean Pees will pick his spots to line up the 31-year-old pass rusher on the opposite side against Jason Fox. He’ll take advantage by picking up two sacks and pressuring Tannehill all day.

5. The Ravens will show they have more under the hood than Miami in a 26-17 win. The Dolphins have more talent than this current version of Harbaugh’s team, but they have mailed it in too many times in a disappointing season, something you can’t say about the Ravens with all 11 of their games decided by one score. One factor to remember is that Baltimore is on the road again after a Monday night road game, making a slow start a distinct possibility. For the first time all season, the Ravens will play a game decided by more than one score and will come out on the winning end, which will say even more about the Dolphins’ ineptitude than Baltimore’s intestinal fortitude.

Comments Off on Ravens-Dolphins: Five predictions for Sunday


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens left tackle Monroe doubtful to play against Miami

Posted on 04 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A season of disappointment continues for Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe, who is listed as doubtful to play against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

After re-aggravating a shoulder injury in the second half of the Week 11 win over St. Louis on Nov. 22, Monroe has yet to return to practice and missed Monday’s game in Cleveland. Second-year lineman James Hurst is expected to make his sixth start of the season at left tackle, which would equal Monroe’s number of starts in 2015.

After missing just four games in his first five seasons in the NFL, Monroe is likely to miss his 12th game of the last two seasons (counting the playoffs). The 6-foot-5, 300-pound lineman has finished just three games in the second season of a five-year, $37.5 million contract that included $17.5 million guaranteed.

In better news for the Baltimore offensive line, left guard Kelechi Osemele practiced fully all week and is probable to make his return against the Dolphins. Osemele missed the last two games with a lingering knee issue while Ryan Jensen made the first starts of his NFL career at left guard.

Rookie tight end Maxx Williams was officially ruled out after sustaining a concussion against the Browns and missing practice all week. Third-year wide receiver Marlon Brown was listed as doubtful with a lingering back injury that kept him sidelined against the Browns.

Right tackle Rick Wagner was absent from the final practice of the week due to a non-injury issue, but the third-year lineman is not in danger of missing Sunday’s game. He was listed as probable on the final injury report of the week.

“Not a concern,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s fine.”

Meanwhile, the Dolphins officially ruled out starting right tackle Ja’Wuan James (toe), starting receiver Rishard Matthews (ribs), and starting defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (calf). Starting center Mike Pouncey (foot) and starting wideout Kenny Stills (ankle) are questionable to play against the Ravens.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be John Parry.

According to Weather.com, Sunday’s forecast for Miami calls for temperatures in the low 80s with a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms and winds up to 12 miles per hour.

On Friday, the Ravens re-signed safety Nick Perry to their practice squad and cut offensive lineman Marcel Jones.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

OUT: TE Maxx Williams (concussion)
DOUBTFUL: WR Marlon Brown (back), OT Eugene Monroe (shoulder)
PROBABLE: DE Chris Canty (non-injury), G Kelechi Osemele (knee), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury), OT Rick Wagner (non-injury)

OUT: OT JA’Wuan James (toe), WR Rishard Matthews (ribs), DT Earl Mitchell (calf)
QUESTIONABLE: C Mike Pouncey (foot), WR Kenny Stills (ankle)
PROBABLE: RB Jay Ajayi (shoulder), OT Brandon Albert (non-injury), S Shamiel Gray (foot), LB Jelani Jenkins (ankle), WR Jarvis Landry (knee), LB Chris McCain (hip), LB Koa Misi (abdomen), DT Jordan Phillips (shoulder), LB Kelvin Sheppard (hamstring), TE Dion Sims (neck)

Comments Off on Ravens left tackle Monroe doubtful to play against Miami

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 9.51.45 PM

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Landry remains threat despite Miami’s offensive woes

Posted on 03 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens won’t know exactly what to expect from a Miami offense under new leadership on Sunday.

Ranking 27th in the NFL in total offense, rush offense, and points per game, the Dolphins fired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor on Monday with quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor now taking over the play-calling duties and quarterback Ryan Tannehill having more input with the offensive game plan. It can’t get any worse for a group that’s averaged just 20.5 points per game and ranks 31st in the NFL in third-down conversions at just 27.7 percent.

Now in his fourth year after signing a $96 million extension in the spring, Tannehill hasn’t had a poor season statistically, but his offense simply hasn’t gotten on track in a disappointing 2015 season that began with the Dolphins expecting to compete for a playoff spot.

“It’s a little bit of everything and everybody has their own piece of it for sure, absolutely,” said second-year wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who is one of the few bright spots for Miami in 2015. “The key things are definitely turnovers and penalties. I think that has held us back thus far. If we find ways to eliminate that, then I think we can be an explosive offense.”

Building on a solid rookie season, Landry has become the Dolphins’ best offensive player in making 76 catches for 816 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for 107 yards and a touchdown. The LSU product fell to the second round of the 2014 draft because of an underwhelming 40-yard dash time at the NFL scouting combine, but his 358 yards after the catch are tied for fourth among NFL wide receivers this season.

Though his pass defense has made modest improvement in recent weeks and is now up to 24th in the league, defensive coordinator Dean Pees knows whatever new wrinkles the Dolphins might show are bound to include new ways to get the football to Landry. The Ravens will need to know where Landry is at all times as they try to not only win their third straight game but also win a game in Miami for the third consecutive season.

“There are guys like that who do not necessarily go out and run a 40 that absolutely blows everybody’s mind, but they are just really good football players– great eyes, quick, good vision,” Pees said. “Not every great [skill-position player] in the NFL has been a 4.3 guy. There are guys that have good vision. He is one of those guys that when he catches a ball, it’s like a punt return. He has quick feet, exceptional eyes. His yards come running after the catch, and he makes a lot of people miss.

“I can’t tell you what it is; it’s just it.”

Landry takes a high number of snaps in the slot, meaning it will primarily be the responsibility of cornerback Lardarius Webb to keep him in check when the Ravens are in the nickel package. Maligned due to health concerns and uninspiring play over the last couple years, the 30-year-old has quietly had a solid season playing in all but one of Baltimore’s 11 games.

Despite expressing kind words for the Ravens secondary, the 5-foot-11, 202-pound Landry will be licking his chops against a pass defense that has struggled mightily to defend the middle portion of the field. And Baltimore defenders need to be sure tacklers when he gets the ball in open space.

“Obviously, you see a group of veteran guys,” Landry said. “Guys that have definitely made plays, guys that have consistently made plays, and guys that look like to be still having production. I have a lot of respect for those guys.”

The Ravens will need to show even more respect for Landry, regardless of what else a revamped Miami offense might throw their way on Sunday.

Comments Off on Landry remains threat despite Miami’s offensive woes

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 9.55.08 AM

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Matching records aside, Ravens quite different from Miami

Posted on 03 December 2015 by Luke Jones

Matching 4-7 records reflect that the Ravens and the Miami Dolphins have failed to live up to expectations as AFC playoff contenders this season.

But as the tough-luck Ravens have set an NFL record with their first 11 games each being decided by one possession, the Dolphins have experienced more embarrassment as six of their seven losses have come by 10 or more points and four have come by 16 or more. Only three of Miami’s 11 games have been decided by one possession, making the Dolphins the anti-Ravens in some regards.

Aside from their first two games under interim coach Dan Campbell — blowout wins over Tennesee and Houston in October — the Dolphins have rarely even been all that competitive, leading you to wonder about the future of an organization that hasn’t made the postseason since 2008. It’s one thing to lose big at New England on a Thursday night, but this is a Miami team that lost a home game to Buffalo by 27 points in late September.

You can doubt their talent, discipline, or football IQ, but the Ravens have rarely made you question their effort in a string of heartbreaking losses in 2015. Though not a good football team, Baltimore has shown up to play hard every week, which reflects a locker room not giving up on head coach John Harbaugh and the coaching staff.

The final score of the Dolphins’ 38-20 defeat to the New York Jets this past Sunday doesn’t fully illustrate how poor and listless the performance was that led to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor being fired on Monday, almost two months after head coach Joe Philbin was dismissed. Needless to say, 2015 has been a lost season for Miami like it’s been for the Ravens in this pass-fail business.

So, what exactly has gone wrong for a Miami team that ranks 27th in total offense and 28th in total defense?

We know that the Ravens’ well-documented injuries are a major factor — not the only one, but still a significant one — in one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history as 18 players currently reside on injured reserve or the physically unable to perform list. That group includes their Super Bowl XLVII MVP quarterback, their No. 1 receiver, their starting running back, the 2011 AP Defensive Player of the Year and six-time Pro Bowl linebacker, their starting center, and a former starting tight end.

But Miami has only two players on IR this season, though it’s important to note that one is four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake. For a team with attractive pieces on both sides of the football, that level of health should typically put you in position to make a push for the postseason.

Instead, the Dolphins have floundered for most of the season due to poor coaching or a poor response to coaching — mostly likely both.

Miami has more talent than these current injury-ravaged Ravens and may show up to beat a team that’s led by veteran backup quarterback Matt Schaub on Sunday. But the Dolphins are just as likely to go through the motions and lose by double digits like they have too often in 2015.

Their records are the same and that’s all that matters in the end.

But only one team is deserving of respect.

Comments Off on Matching records aside, Ravens quite different from Miami

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 4.45.14 PM

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Osemele back at practice as Ravens prepare for Miami

Posted on 02 December 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Coming off a thrilling win over Cleveland on Monday night, the Ravens began making preparations for Sunday’s trip to Miami with a key member of the offensive line back at practice.

Left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) was present and working during a light practice on Wednesday that appeared to be little more than a walk-through. The fourth-year lineman has missed Baltimore’s last two games, but his presence was a good sign as the Ravens look to win a road game against the Dolphins for the third straight year.

Left tackle Eugene Monroe (shoulder) and tight end Maxx Williams (concussion) were not present on Wednesday. Monroe missed his fifth game of the season while the rookie Williams sustained a concussion against the Browns.

Wide receiver Marlon Brown (back) observed practice, but he did not participate after missing his first game of the season in Week 12.

Preparing his team for temperatures that could reach 80 degrees in Miami on Sunday, head coach John Harbaugh turned the heat up in the Ravens’ Owings Mills field house as the Ravens practiced inside on Wednesday. Baltimore will be playing in Miami for the third consecutive year after winning road games the previous two seasons.

“We started cranking it last night, so it works its way up. But you noticed?” said Harbaugh as he laughed when asked how players reacted to the temperature. “Everybody seems comfortable. They mentioned it. Muggy, stuffy, hard to breathe — those are all the words that were used. I don’t know if there’s any science behind it, but it makes sense to me.”

The Ravens re-signed running back Terrence Magee and wide receiver Chuck Jacobs to the practice squad. Harbaugh also confirmed that the Ravens worked out former Texans quarterback Ryan Mallet, but he would not comment on how it went.

Mallet wore out his welcome with the Texans after missing a team flight in October and previously showing up late for a training camp practice, which he blamed on an alarm clock issue. The Arkansas product has a strong throwing arm, but he has never been able to put it together on the field to go along with the immaturity.

“It’s something I don’t think I’m allowed to comment on, but he was here working out,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see where those things go as we move forward.”

The Dolphins released a crowded injury report on Wednesday as right tackle Ja’Wuan James (toe), wide receiver Rishard Matthews (ribs), defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (foot), and center Mike Pouncey (foot) all missed practice.

Below is the full injury report for Wednesday:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Marlon Brown (back), OT Eugene Monroe (shoulder), TE Maxx Williams (concussion)
FULL PARTICIPATION: G Kelechi Osemele (knee)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: OT Branden Albert (non-injury), OT Ja’Wuan James (toe), WR Rishard Matthews (ribs), DT Earl Mitchell (calf), C Mike Pouncey (foot)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Jelani Jenkins (ankle), WR Jarvis Landry (knee), LB Koa Misi (abdomen), DT Jordan Phillips (shoulder)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Jay Ajayi (shoulder), S Shamiel Gray (foot), LB Chris McCain (hip), LB Kelvin Sheppard (hamstring), TE Dion Sims (neck)

Comments Off on Osemele back at practice as Ravens prepare for Miami


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens acquire former third-round cornerback Will Davis

Posted on 21 September 2015 by Luke Jones

Trying to augment a thin secondary that was torched by the Oakland Raiders in Week 2, the Ravens acquired cornerback Will Davis from Miami on Monday.

General manager Ozzie Newsome traded a 2016 seventh-round pick to the Dolphins to complete the trade.

The 25-year-old cornerback was a third-round pick in the 2013 draft, but he never lived up to his potential and had been inactive in each of the Dolphins’ first two games this season. Davis appeared in 15 games in his first two seasons, collecting 25 tackles and two pass breakups.

His 2014 campaign was cut short by a torn ACL that sidelined him for the final six games.

The Ravens are currently thin at cornerback behind their top trio of Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, and Kyle Arrington with Rashaan Melvin missing two games with a hamstring issue and rookie fourth-rounder Tray Walker lacking the experience to truly be trusted. Of course, the performance of the entire secondary left much to be desired Sunday as Oakland quarterback Derek Carr threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-33 loss to drop the Ravens’ record to 0-2 for the first time since 2005.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Davis doesn’t sport a track record that suggests he’ll make a major impact, but his addition probably also serves as a message to the incumbents in the secondary that Sunday’s performance was not acceptable. A year ago, the Ravens cut cornerbacks Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks after a Week 9 loss in Pittsburgh in which Ben Roethlisberger threw for 340 yards and six touchdown passes.

Davis played his college football at Utah State before being selected by Miami with the 93rd overall pick in 2013.

Comments Off on Ravens acquire former third-round cornerback Will Davis

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Torrey Smith’s status uncertain for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville

Posted on 08 December 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Perhaps the most concerning development to arise from the Ravens’ critical 28-13 win over the Miami Dolphins was the status of wide receiver Torrey Smith.

After his right knee swelled up during pre-game warmups on Sunday, the fourth-year wideout was limited to just 15 snaps and failed to record a reception while younger wide receivers Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown picked up the slack in his absence. With the 8-5 Ravens now preparing to play 2-11 Jacksonville on Sunday, it’s possible that the medical staff will be cautious with Smith with an eye toward him being closer to 100 percent for the final two games of the regular season and a potential trip to the postseason.

“Torrey does not have any torn things in his knee. He’s got a sprain,” head coach John Harbaugh said on Monday. “We’ll just have to monitor that day to day and see if he makes it to the game. He made it to the last game — he didn’t damage it any further — but he just wasn’t able to be 100 percent. I think we all appreciate him gutting it out and giving us what he had. He showed a lot of toughness there in that situation.”

Of course, medical experts will tell you a sprain is a tear, but it’s believed that the 25-year-old isn’t dealing with a significant injury since the Ravens cleared him to play against the Dolphins before the knee flared up during warmups. Taking a more conservative approach against the Jaguars would make sense considering the Ravens will be facing one of the worst teams in the NFL at M&T Bank Stadium.

Smith has never missed a game in his career, but it was the second time this season he’s failed to record a reception with the first coming in a loss at Cincinnati on Oct. 26. It was clear from the early going Sunday that he was going to be used as little more than a decoy against one of the league’s better pass defenses entering Week 14.

Against the Dolphins, second-year receiver Kamar Aiken played 46 of 65 offensive snaps and caught six passes for 65 yards and a 13-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The Ravens also turned more frequently to 6-foot-5 target Marlon Brown, who played 33 snaps and caught three passes for 30 yards. Veteran Steve Smith led all Ravens targets with seven catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.

In the final year of his rookie contract, Torrey Smith leads the Ravens with eight touchdown catches and has collected 38 receptions for 609 yards after a slow start to the 2014 campaign.

Comments Off on Torrey Smith’s status uncertain for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Harbaugh’s bold move sets attitude for Ravens’ season-saving win

Posted on 07 December 2014 by Luke Jones

John Harbaugh may not be a prophet, but he offered a glimpse into a head coach’s mindset for making difficult in-game choices six days prior to the Ravens’ season-saving 28-13 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

That decision-making process played out again early in the third quarter Sunday as the Ravens trailed 10-7 and faced fourth-and-1 at their own 35-yard line. Instead of sending his punting unit onto the field as most coaches would do in such a spot, Harbaugh decided the Ravens would go for it and threw caution to the wind.

And that’s where his response last Monday when questioned about using a timeout before kicking a late field goal in the disappointing loss to San Diego rang loud and clear.

“‘In retrospect,’ you’d always like to do something different if it doesn’t work out,” Harbaugh said. “But in the heat of battle, you do the best you can, you make the decision that you make — the one that you think is best at the time.

“We did the best we could; it wasn’t good enough. I didn’t do well enough making those decisions enough to win the game in the end. And that’s the reality — just take responsibility for it and move on.”

There’s no doubt that Harbaugh would have been facing a mountain of criticism had quarterback Joe Flacco been stuffed at the line of scrimmage and the Ravens not moved down the field to score the go-ahead touchdown and eventually win the game. Numbers-savvy fans and statistical analysts will tell you going for it in such a situation isn’t the risk it seems, but they’re not the ones on the sideline and potentially facing the wrath of the owner, general manager, media, and fans if the decision blows up in their face.

It’s a risk many wouldn’t have taken — especially when Baltimore was stuffed on two short-yardage situations in the first half — but no one knows the Ravens’ pulse in Week 14 better than Harbaugh following a difficult defeat to the Chargers last Sunday and this week’s news of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata being suspended for the rest of the regular season. After weathering a miserable start in the first half and his Ravens only trailing by three, Harbaugh’s bold move made it clear he didn’t want to surrender the momentum gained with a touchdown late in the second quarter and the Dolphins punting on the opening possession of the third quarter.

In a game the Ravens described all week as a must-win affair, Harbaugh’s decision illustrated the desperation of the day. And perhaps it was the lift his team needed to put a trying first half in the rear-view mirror.

The fourth-down conversion to continue the drive that culminated with Flacco’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Kamar Aiken set the attitude for a dominating finish and a crucial victory in Miami.

Of course, the Ravens had begun to awaken before Harbaugh’s fourth-down gamble as Flacco bounced back from throwing one of his worst interceptions of the season to lead the Ravens down the field for a 97-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown to Steve Smith with two seconds left in the first half. That connection came after Smith had dropped a perfectly-thrown pass in the end zone a play before Flacco’s ugly turnover.

The Baltimore signal-caller was superb after his end-zone miscue midway through the second quarter, completing 18 of 23 passes for 200 yards and two touchdown passes the rest of the way as he finished with 269 yards.

But Flacco wasn’t alone as a running game playing with a hobbled Justin Forsett came alive in the fourth quarter, rushing 14 times for 107 yards in the final 15 minutes. Forsett finished with 71 yards, Bernard Pierce chipped in three carries for 50 yards in the fourth quarter, and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro added 35 more yards on the day.

A Baltimore defense that surrendered 10 points in its first two series settled down and began swarming Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the pocket to the tune of six sacks and nine quarterback hits, much of that pressure coming in the second half when Miami managed just three points. Elvis Dumervil collected 3 1/2 sacks to set the Ravens’ single-season record with 16 through 13 games, eclipsing Peter Boulware’s mark set in 2001.

Despite some leaky run defense early, the Ravens hardly seemed to miss Ngata as the Dolphins ran for only 63 yards on 16 carries.

A secondary that lost reserve cornerbacks Anthony Levine and Danny Gorrer to injuries will remain a concern for the rest of the season, but the unit wasn’t nearly the same liability with the Ravens consistently collapsing the pocket and harassing Tannehill.

The Ravens answered the bell without the services of a healthy Torrey Smith, who was held without a catch in limited action. With the fourth-year wideout’s knee swelling up during pre-game warmups, Aiken contributed six receptions for 65 yards, Marlon Brown caught three passes for 30 yards, and even the recently-promoted tight end Phillip Supernaw added a 29-yard reception to set up a Forsett touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

It was a team effort as the Ravens awoke from a painfully slow start to dispose of the Dolphins and move just a half-game behind first-place Cincinnati in the AFC North.

There’s no way of knowing whether the Ravens would have won had Harbaugh elected to punt early in the third quarter or if they’d failed to convert on fourth-and-1, but Baltimore didn’t look back from the point Flacco surged forward to move the chains.

Whether you viewed it as the prudent choice or a foolish risk, Harbaugh’s bold move worked out and set the tone for the remainder of the game.

The Ravens responded by dominating the rest of the way to earn a critical win in the AFC playoff landscape.

Comments (2)