The 2016 Miami Dolphins are a better team than most people expected heading into this season. The team was predicted to win somewhere between four to six games this year, and yet they currently have seven wins, thanks to a six-game winning streak. Unfortunately, the team still has issues that they were able to mask in November. The first game of December, however, those issues came to the forefront as the Baltimore Ravens dominated the Dolphins from the moment the game started.
It was a thorough Baltimore beatdown, and Miami simply could not find any sort of rhythm - on offense, on defense, or on special teams - throughout the day. Every week, a part of the recap of the game here on The Phinsider is a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly from the game. Unfortunately, this game had a lot of ugly.
- Jay Ajayi, running back - Something had to be good, right? Well, it was Ajayi, who picked up 61 yards on 12 carries. That is a 5.1 yard per carry average in a game against the top rush defense in the league. Ajayi could have had even higher numbers, if the Dolphins had not fallen so far behind so quickly on Sunday.
- Penalties - The penalties issues for Miami were not as bad this week as they have been, but they were still bad. Seven accepted penalties for 57 yards is too many, and the Dolphins seem to have a knack this year for making a big play, but having it called back due to a hold or some other penalty. That happened again this game, where just as the offense appeared to be starting to find themselves, penalties would end any chance at establishing a rhythm.
- Ryan Tannehill, quarterback - You could argue that Tannehill was bad this game, but not ugly when compared to the defense, but there was not a lot of pretty in the quarterback’s game on Sunday. The first interception actually was a pretty pass, dropped right in to DeVante Parker, but Ledarius Webb made a great play coming across the field to snatch the ball right out of Parker’s hands. The other two interceptions, however, were bad throws from Tannehill, one behind Jarvis Landry, who tipped it up and the Ravens picked it off, and one on a pass intended for Kenny Stills that was just another bad thrown. Tannehill also ate a sack on a roll-out, where he was already out of the pocket and could have just thrown the ball away. Tannehill was asked to pick up the offense again this week, but the Ravens defense proved to be too much for Miami and Tannehill. Everyone will have a bad game every now and then, so Tannehill has to turn this into a one game thing and come out ready to play next week. Tannehill described the offensive problems after the game, saying, “We just didn’t play well, but there’s still a lot of football left for us. We just made too many mistakes. We made physical mistakes and communication mistakes.” Now, he has to fix it, especially the communication mistakes.
- The defense - This was really ugly. Just....ugly. Joe Flacco was 36-for-47 for 381 yards with four touchdowns and an interception in the game. And, the Ravens took him out of the contest with nine minutes remaining. They ran the ball 20 times - but most of those came as the team was trying to run down the clock in the fourth quarter. This game was purely a display of how to carve apart the Miami defense, and Flacco looked like a surgeon out there. The middle of the field was an embarrassing gold mine, with Flacco and all of his receivers - and there were 10 of them (plus one who was targeted twice but did not make a reception) - picking up whatever chunk they wanted. Tight end Dennis Pitta had nine receptions for 90 yards with two touchdowns. Mike Wallace and Steve Smith, Sr., each had six receptions, for 59 and 53 yards year. Breshad Perriman only had two receptions, but of course he had 59 yards thanks to his 53 yard catch and run for a touchdown. The linebackers - and part of this was due to injury as Donald Butler, Spencer Paysinger, and Mike Hull were on the field more than Miami would have wanted - and safeties were exposed throughout the game. The Ravens did a good job of picking on Tony Lippett and Bobby McCain as well at times. Miami’s ability to hide the weaknesses of the pass defense this year has come with the pass rushers being able to get after the quarterback routinely; Sunday, the Ravens were able to stuff the pass rush fairly effectively.