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Ravens get 'great team victory' over Dolphins

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - About 15 minutes after the game Sunday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh walked into the interview room at Sun Life Stadium.
As he made his way to the podium, he jokingly threw out to the group of media assembled in the room, "Everybody OK after that?"
The game wasn't pretty for Baltimore. There were once again issues along the offensive line. There was Joe Flacco's interception during the fourth quarter that was returned for a game-tying touchdown. And even after the Ravens re-took the lead, there was Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill's improbable 46-yard completion on fourth-and-10 that put Miami in range for a game-tying or possibly game-winning score with about a minute left in the fourth quarter.
But in the end, Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis missed a 57-yard field goal attempt with 33 seconds left and Baltimore held on for a 26-23 win that moved its record to 3-2.
"We needed this win big time, a road win against a very good football team," Ravens safety James Ihedigbo said, later adding, "As a team, that's what it's about, fighting through adversity. And coach [Harbaugh] was saying that through adversity is when you find out who your real self is. We found out who the real Ravens are."
Baltimore will get another test next week when it hosts Aaron Rodgers and a talented Green Bay Packers team, but Sunday's win was big for the Ravens for a variety of reasons.
They got a bounce-back victory of sorts after a frustrating loss last week in Buffalo. They avoided falling to 2-3 heading into that game against Rodgers and the Packers. They got a win on the road for the first time this season after struggling on the road in both Denver and Buffalo. And they saw things from their offense and even more so their defense to be encouraged about.
"It wasn't perfect," Baltimore outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "But the offense and defense fought and made the plays that they needed to make on both sides of the ball to win the game."
The defense, in particular, keyed the win.
Miami scored 13 points during the first half and led 13-6 at halftime. But the Ravens' defense limited the Dolphins' offense to just three points during the second half.
Tannehill threw for 307 yards, but just 129 of those yards came after halftime. He finished just 21 of 40.
Baltimore also held the Dolphins' running game to just 22 yards on 11 carries.
The 22 rushing yards is the fourth lowest rushing output by an opponent in Ravens history.
"Our defense really stood up today," Baltimore cornerback Lardarius Webb said.
And it stood up most in the most important moments of the game.
The Dolphins' offense had two opportunities for potential game determining scoring drives after Miami safety Reshad Jones returned a Flacco interception 25 yards for a touchdown to tie the score at 23 with just more than eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
But the Dolphins came up empty on both drives.
Suggs was the primary reason on the first drive.
He sacked Tannehill on first down. And after a Tannehill incompletion on second down, Suggs got another sack to force a Miami punt and help set up the Ravens' offense with favorable field position.
The field position helped as, after starting at its own 40-yard line, Baltimore drove 34 yards in seven plays and got a 44-yard go-ahead field goal from kicker Justin Tucker with one minute, 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
But Miami still had a chance at a decisive score. A field goal would likely force overtime. A touchdown would likely win the game.
Tannehill did have the 46-yard completion to wide receiver Brandon Gibson to put the Dolphins on the Ravens' 34-yard line with one minute, one second remaining. But Tannehill spiked the ball to stop the clock on first down, was sacked by Baltimore outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil on second down, and the Ravens induced an incompletion on third down that forced Miami to settle for a very long field attempt by Sturgis, which he missed wide left.
"It was a great team victory," Webb said. "In the end, the game was put in the defense's hands and the guys really played ball."
But the Ravens' offense deserves credit as well.
The offensive line, as it had been through the first four games, was a problem, both in the running game as well as in the game, but the offense scored points on four of their six second half possessions.
Flacco had the interception that was returned for a touchdown, but left tackle Bryant McKinnie was more to blame than Flacco on the play.
McKinnie was beaten around the corner by Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan, who hit Flacco's arm as Flacco was throwing, causing the ball to flutter in the air before being picked off by Jones near the right sideline at the 25-yard line.
Harbaugh also acknowledged later that Baltimore should have run the ball rather than attempt to throw in that situation with the offense facing a third-and-22 at its own 9-yard line.
"We want that one back," Harbaugh said. "That was a mistake. We should have run the ball there. I think we'll all agree there. We should have punted it out of there the way our defense was playing. We put Joe in a tough spot there. That was a mistake."
But excluding that one play, Flacco was 19 of 31 for 269 yards despite the Ravens having just three wide receivers active for the game - Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss and Deonte Thompson.
The Ravens once again struggled on the ground, but they did finish with 133 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Success on third down was also important for Baltimore. It was just 2 of 8 on third down during the first half, but it was 4 of 8 on third down during the second half.
"Every single game in the NFL is tough and every single game is important because of the amount of games we play," Flacco said. "It always comes down to one or two games at the end, so to come down here and respond the way we did and get a win against a good football team is definitely going to be huge for us down the road."

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