Miami — Miami -- Matt Stover has made an 18-year NFL career as much on his reliability as on a supercharged right foot.
Yesterday, Stover showed he is human.
After seeing his 50-yard field-goal attempt get blocked at the end of the first half, Stover pulled a potential game-winning 44-yard field goal wide left on the opening possession of overtime.
The Ravens lost the game, 22-16, three plays later.
"I'm glad we had the opportunity to win the game," Stover said. "It was just [about] me executing. I over-kicked a little bit. You need to go back and review those kicks in your mind. You can always think of things you can change. The ball didn't go through today."
Field goals of 27 and 39 yards by Stover had given the Ravens a 6-0 lead in the second quarter, and his 18-yarder with eight seconds left in regulation had sent the game to overtime.
Then came what many have expected from Stover: a kick from a reasonable distance to win the game. Earlier this season, Stover beat the Arizona Cardinals with a 46-yard field goal with no time left in regulation.
Stover's response to his missed kick yesterday was interesting, considering that he will turn 40 next month.
"I look at that kick as a learning situation. I've got to get better," Stover said. "They put me out there thinking that I'm going to make the field goal. That's how I thought of it. I already envisioned it through. It didn't happen today."
Can Stover put yesterday's miss behind him?
"I've got a blessed memory, it's really short," he said.
Backups step up
Rookie cornerback Willie Gaston and veteran linebacker Nick Greisen were not on the Ravens' 53-man roster at the beginning of the season.
Gaston, an undrafted free agent out of Houston, was on the practice squad for all but one of the first 13 games. Greisen was signed as a free agent in Week 3 after being cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he started 10 games last season.
Yesterday, both played more than they had all season.
Gaston made his first NFL start because of injuries to cornerbacks Samari Rolle and Chris McAlister, and Greisen came in after linebacker Ray Lewis went out with a dislocated finger in the third quarter.
"I guess from the day I came on this team, I knew I had to be ready to go," said Greisen, 28, a six-year veteran who played his first four years with the New York Jets. "Maybe some people think it's a cliche when you say you're one play away from being a starter, but it's not."
Greisen said what helped him against the Dolphins was the opportunity he received when Lewis sat out practice in Owings Mills on Friday, and Greisen got to run with the first-team defense.
It couldn't quite match what transpired yesterday.
"It's nothing new to me, but to be out there, it was a great feeling to be playing defense and not just a track meet on special teams," said Greisen, who finished with three tackles.
"Experience goes a long way in this game," added Gaston, who had five tackles and broke up one pass. "In the NFL, you've got a lot of guys who've played a long time and once you lose guys like Ray, Samari and Chris, we both stepped in and did pretty good."
Rookie Yamon Figurs has made an impact with the Ravens this season as a dangerous, if erratic, kickoff and punt returner, but he has been waiting for a chance to show off his abilities as a pass catcher.
Figurs did that on the team's first possession of the game, grabbing a 36-yard pass from Kyle Boller to set up Stover's first field goal. It was the first career reception for the third-round draft choice out of Kansas State.
"It was like some of the plays we do in practice," said Figurs, who returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown the previous week against the Indianapolis Colts and had a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown earlier in the season against Arizona.
Four Ravens with ties to South Florida had more than a few friends and family members in the crowd. Three of them - former Miami Hurricanes Willis McGahee, Ed Reed and Lewis - went out for the opening coin toss.
Rookie linebacker Antwan Barnes, who played at nearby Florida International, had one sack and two quarterback hurries.
"You can have all the sacks in the world, but you've got to come out with a victory," Barnes said.