After a 3-0 start to the season, the Miami Dolphins will enter their Week 5 bye on a disappointing note. In a game where the Dolphins didn't nearly play at the level they are capable of, their fourth quarter come back against the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens fell short, losing 26-23. The loss dropped Miami's record to 3-2.
The contest began with a battle of the kickers as Justin Tucker and Caleb Sturgis exchanged field goals on the game's first three scoring plays. With the Ravens leading 6-3, Ryan Tannehill led a seven play, 60 yard drive capped by a touchdown pass to Charles Clay to give Miami a 13-6 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, the game began to slip away from the Dolphins. Two questionable pass interference calls against Nolan Carroll and Brent Grimes respectively allowed the Ravens' Ray Rice to score an easy touchdown from the two yard line. Baltimore followed that up with a Tucker field goal before Rice scored his second touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter to make the score 23-13 Ravens.
A Caleb Sturgis field goal cut the lead to 23-16 and created some optimism to fuel the hope of a potential Dolphins comeback. On the ensuing Ravens possession, Joe Flacco was intercepted by Reshad Jones who returned it for the game-tying touchdown, 23-23.
However, the Ravens took advantage of a short field and took a 26-23 lead on a field goal with less than two minutes remaining. On the Dolphins final possession, Tannehill completed a 46 yard pass to Brandon Gibson on 4th and 10 but Sturgis' 57 yard field goal sailed wide left. The Ravens hung on for the 3 point win.
In a game that featured so many ups and downs, many positive and negative aspects emerged for the Dolphins.
- Despite the abundance of injuries for the Dolphins on defense - Cameron Wake, Dimitri Patterson, Dannell Ellerbe, and Philip Wheeler to name a few - the unit consistently got pressure on Joe Flacco and forced promising Ravens drives to end in a field goal attempt.
- Dion Jordan stepped up in Wake's absence (Wake was active but left the game early in the first quarter) and had his best game as a Dolphin in crunch time. Jordan read a screen perfectly and nearly intercepted Flacco. He also made an impact on the pick six as he tipped the pass which landed in Reshad Jones' arms.
- Miami won the turnover battle 2-0 - recording one interception and recovering a Ray Rice fumble - and scored 10 points off those takeaways.
- At this rate it will be a surprise if Ryan Tannehill stayed healthy for the entire season. The offensive line allowed another six sacks which gives them a grand total of 24 sacks allowed on the season. While Tannehill continues to show improvement, the poor offensive line play is stunting his growth.
- Dolphins receivers didn't do Tannehill any favors on the final drive of the game, dropping several passes that would have made the game-tying field goal attempt much easier. Tannehill finished the game with a respectable 21-for-40 passing for one touchdown and a passer rating of 86.1. His stats would have been better if at least eight of his passes weren't dropped.
- Speaking of receivers, Mike Wallace produced seven receptions for 105 yards, however he was targeted 16 times and dropped 5 passes. Not exactly what you want to see from your $60 million pass catcher. While it's still evident Tannehill and Wallace must develop chemistry, Wallace must do this part.
- Miami must do a better job of incorporating the run into its offense. Lamar Miller is an explosive back that can be a game changer but its tough to accomplish that on only seven carries.
- Joe Philbin mismanged the clock near the end of the game by not using his timeouts before the two minute warning. His decisions cost the team about 20 seconds, a crucial mistake late in the game.
Before the season started, many would have been thrilled if the Dolphins were 3-2 heading into the bye. However, Miami let a winnable game slip away and have glaring holes that must be fixed.
Despite the loss, the bye comes at a perfect time with the injuries starting to mount for the Dolphins. It will be interesting to see what adjustments are made before the team's Week 7 matchup at home against the Buffalo Bills.