It was probably fitting for the Ravens' much-maligned defense that on an afternoon when they might have played their best game of the season against the pass, they turned in one of their worst against the run.
Jon Meoli hits on 10 stats, notes, and thoughts following the Ravens' 28-13 road win over the Miami Dolphins. Read ahead for notes on replacing Haloti Ngata, the offense carrying this team, and the performance of Rick Wagner and Eugene Monroe.
When the Ravens' 28-13 win over the Dolphins in front of an announced 70,244 at Sun Life Stadium was finally complete, players pointed to John Harbaugh's decision as the impetus for a victory that they badly needed.
As he walked out of the visiting locker room late Sunday afternoon following one of the finest days of his career, Ravens outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil was serenaded by a chant that is usually heard only at his home stadium.
The Ravens'¿ fourth-ranked running defense enters its first game without Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata with a unique challenge in Miami's spread-option offense, which features quarterback Ryan Tannehill as a threat to run and has proven difficult for defenses to stop all season.
Every week, reporter Jon Meoli will serve up five stats you should know heading into that week's Ravens game. This week's stats, prepared ahead of Sunday's playoff-type showdown with the Miami Dolphins, touch on some rate stats at which the Ravens excel, and how they might impact one of the biggest games of the season.
It's been said and written that Terrell Suggs, who has seven sacks this season, has recaptured his 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year form after an injury-plagued 2012. But those who know him best insist that they're watching an even better player, one who is combining physical skills with a deeper knowledge of the game, an increased focus and a stronger desire to lead.
After fielding a few questions Thursday about whether Terrell Suggs is playing better than he ever has and another about the effect that Elvis Dumervil has had on his pass rush, Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees wanted to make sure everyone knew about the dirty work being done by Courtney Upshaw.
However, the Ravens still look like a team trying to find some consistency and in search of an offensive identity. With the Houston Texans struggling and the Dolphins still trying to establish themselves as contenders, the Ravens also are a without a signature win, albeit at a very early juncture of the season.
With Sunday's game hanging in the balance, the Ravens sat back and let their front four do the work. The Ravens sacked Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill on four of his final 15 dropbacks. And according to ESPN Stats and Info, each of those sacks came when the Ravens sent a four-man rush.
The Ravens' recommitment to the running game during Sunday's 26-23 victory over the Miami Dolphins wasn¿t reflected in their 3.3 yards-per-carry average. But other numbers tell the story, starting with their 40 rushing attempts. The Ravens still have plenty of work left to do to get their running game to where it needs to be, but a week after giving up on it altogether, they relied on it to escape from Miami with a win.
It doesn't happen often, but Sunday the guys in the CBS broadcast booth got it mostly right in their keys-to-the-game talking points just before kickoff. Give them credit for that in their call of the Ravens 23-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins Sunday.
They're tied for first place in the division with two fellow 2-2 teams, the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. The Ravens defeated the Browns, 14-6, earlier this season and have yet to play the Bengals.
The Ravens will get a chance to right their ship against the Cleveland Browns, a team they have defeated 10 straight times. While Baltimore Sun reporter and blogger Matt Vensel thinks the Browns, who have a good defense, will put up a fight, picking an 11th consecutive win wouldn't be very courageous of him. But he is willing to go out on a limb and make these four bold predictions for Sunday's game.
The Cleveland Browns kept coming in waves at Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, blitzing him on nearly half of his dropbacks last Sunday and also harassing him when they rushed just four. The Browns sacked him four times, hit him three additional times and hurried him on a handful of other plays. It was just one game, but new Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton's fingerprints were easy to identify.