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Ravens all wet in Miami loss


MIAMI - Torrential rain and a fierce Miami Dolphins defense sent the Ravens stumbling to a 19-6 loss at Pro Player Stadium last night.

The defeat, coming a week after an emotional comeback win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, dropped the Ravens to 2-1 and into a three-way tie for the AFC Central Division lead with Jacksonville and Cleveland.

The Ravens got only two field goals out of four penetrations inside the Dolphins' 20-yard line against what was the NFL's best red-zone defense a year ago. They were only 2-for- 10 on third downs, as well.

Quarterback Tony Banks was sacked six times, threw an interception and had a pair of fumbles, although the Ravens recovered both.

The Ravens' offense didn't get started until the second half after the Dolphins took a 13-0 lead. A week ago, the Ravens trailed Jacksonville 17-0 before staging a dramatic second-half comeback to win.

After an extravagant half-time show to retire former Miami quarterback Dan Marino's No. 13 jersey, the Dolphins drove 61 yards with the second-half kickoff to take a 13-0 lead in the rain, a by-product of Hurricane Gordon.

Miami quarterback Jay Fiedler, who completed just four passes in the first half, threw consecutive completions to Leslie Shepherd for 19 and 28 yards to reach the Baltimore 7.

Then, on a first-down misdirection play, Lamar Smith followed Fiedler left to open space while the rest of the offense went right. Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis missed Smith at the 3, and he skipped in for the touchdown.

The Ravens squandered a first down at the Miami 1 on the next series and had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Matt Stover, whose streak of 22 consecutive kicks ended with a blocked 30-yarder at the end of the first half.

A 17-yard run by Jamal Lewis and a 25-yard catch and run by tight end Shannon Sharpe gave the Ravens a first down on the Dolphins' 11. Two plays later, they had a first down on the 1.

From there, the Ravens had to burn two timeouts and Banks was sacked twice. Brian Walker dropped him on a safety blitz for an 8-yard loss to the 9 on first down, and Jason Taylor sacked him on third down.

Miami answered with an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that featured a 41-yard pass to tight end Jed Weaver to the Baltimore 11. It. was Only Weaver's second catch of the season.

On second-and-7 from the 8, Fiedler, running right, flipped a short pass to Smith at the 5. Smith beat safety Rod Woodson to the end zone for the touchdown. Olindo Mare's extra point failed though, and the Dolphins held a 19-3 lead.

The Ravens responded by driving to the Miami 15, where Stover kicked a 33-yard field goal. The big play in that 55-yard drive was a 26-yard pass play to fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo.

That cut Miami's lead to 19-6 with 9:35 remaining in the game.

For the second straight week, the Ravens dug themselves a first half hole, trailing Miami 6-0 on two Mare field goals.

The Dolphins outgained the Ravens 90-88 in a rain-spattered first half, converting three of eight third-down plays. The Ravens were 0-for-5 on third downs in the half.

The Dolphins' running game ground out 35 yards in seven carries on Miami's first possession of the game. That nearly matched the Ravens' average defensive yield of 38 yards per game for the first two games.

Smith averaged 5 yards a carry in a 10-play, 47-yard drive that ended with a 32-yard Mare field goal.

The Ravens' first two possessions were undercut by fumbles by Banks on the dirt infield. The first came with Banks operating out of the shotgun formation on third-and-11. Ayanbadejo brushed against the ball and knocked it loose as Banks dropped back. Banks recovered for a 13-yard loss.

Miami cornerbacks Sam Madison (pass interference against Patrick Johnson) and Patrick Surtain (hands to the face of Travis Taylor) had given Baltimore two first downs on a six-play drive. Jamal Lewis, who started the game, had a 16-yard gain after a short pass from Banks on the first play of the game.

Banks' second fumble came on a second-down sack by defensive end Trace Armstrong. Left guard Edwin Mulitalo fell on the ball for a 7-yard loss.

Two plays later, Miami's Jeff Ogden returned a 39-yard Kyle Richardson punt to the Ravens' 48 for a 31-yard pickup. The Dolphins went on a nine-play, 25-yard drive to another Mare field goal, this one from 41 yards out. Fiedler hit Oronde Gadsden for a 12-yard pass play to move the Dolphins to the Ravens' 36.

The Dolphins lost left tackle Richmond Webb with knee and ankle sprains on the first play of the series when defensive tackle Sam Adams, making the stop on a running play, rolled into his leg.

The two teams traded interceptions three plays apart late in the first half.

Fiedler's short third-down toss glanced off Thurman Thomas' hands and was initially caught by James Trapp. But Thomas stripped the ball reaching back with his left hand, and defensive end Rob Burnett caught the carom at the Miami 27.

The Ravens' scoring threat was quickly snuffed, however, when Banks underthrew Johnson deep down the right sideline. Surtain intercepted the ball at the 4, and raced 43 yards up the Sideline.

The Dolphins failed to cash in, though, and had to punt.

That presented the Ravens with their best scoring threat of the first half.

On first down from the Baltimore 20, Lewis broke a 45-yard run to the Miami 35 before stepping out of bounds.

After an 8-yard pass to Ben Coates, Lewis ripped off a 10-yard run to the 17. But the drive bogged down when Jason Taylor and Kenny Mixon combined for Miami's third sack of the first half. Two short passes gained 8 yards, and the Ravens let the clock run to :05 before calling their third timeout.

In keeping with the theme of their Punchless first half, the Ravens missed this opporunity, too. Stover's 30-yard field-goal attempt from the infield dirt was blocked on the last play of the half.

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