The Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens faced off in a Week 17 matchup between the top two teams in the AFC playoff picture. The game never seemed to live up to two of the top teams in the league, however, as the Ravens took it to the Dolphins, and Miami never had an answer.
As they did last week to the San Francisco 49ers, the top team in the NFC, the Ravens dismantled everything Miami tried to do on the day. Miami was out of sync throughout the game in all three aspects of the game, never finding a rhythm on offense, defense, or special teams. It was simply a beatdown by the Ravens, and it clinched the AFC’s top seed for Baltimore for the year.
The Dolphins now return to Miami in Week 18 to face the Buffalo Bills, needing a win to lock down the AFC East and the second seed in the AFC.
Dolphins 19 - 56 Ravens
First Quarter Reactions
The Ravens won the toss and deferred to the second half, giving Miami’s offense the ball first. Miami began the drive with running back De’Von Achane catching a bubble screen and taking it 23 yards. On the drive, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa also threw passes to wide receiver Tyreek Hill for 12 yards and fullback Alec Ingold for 18 yards. The drive was capped by an eight-yard pass from Tagovailoa to wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, Jr., for the touchdown and the early lead. Dolphins 7-0.
Dolphins take it straight down the field on the Ravens. 8 plays, 75 yards, 4;00. Tua to Cedrick Wilson for the 7-0 lead!— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) December 31, 2023
Great start to the game. The Ravens are not going to go away after one possession, but the Dolphins game them multiple looks and spread the ball around, setting up what today should look like without wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and running back Raheem Mostert. Achane also had three carries for 14 yards on the drive, with Miami looking to keep the Ravens off balance.
The Ravens came right back down the field on the Dolphins, starting with what looked like a 42-yard pass from quarterback Lamar Jackson to wide receiver Rashod Bateman, but it was ruled incomplete after a quick review. Another deep pass from Jackson, this time to running back Justice Hill for 26 yards, was called back for an offensive pass interference penalty. Jackson finally completed a deep pass that stood on the next play, finding wide receiver Zay Flowers for 25 yards. A couple of plays later, Jackson again looked deep, finding Hill open for the 20-yard touchdown. Tied 7-7.
The Ravens will rub-route the Dolphins to death unless Miami’s defense adjusts. It was a quick and easy drive for Baltimore.
Starting at their own 27-yard line, Miami moved deep into Baltimore territory on two plays, first a 16-yard Tagovailoa to Hill pass then a 45-yard run from Achane down the left sideline. After a loss of three-yards on an Achane run, followed by a seven-yard gain from Achane, Miami looked to the endzone, with Tagovailoa finding Hill for an easy score, but the receiver could not hold on to the ball and it ended as an incomplete pass. Miami setteld for the 27-yard field goal. Dolphins 10-7.
Oh no. That was an easy score for Hill, someone who never makes that mistake. It was in his hands, and he could not hold on to it, bobbling his way out of bounds. Will those four points become an issue? Achane is making an impact on this game early. In two possessions, he has 63 yards rushing and 23 yards receiving.
The Ravens began the drive with a 14-yard pass from Jackson to Bateman, appearing ready to make Miami pay for missing the sure touchdown. A holding penalty on the Ravens on the next play backed Baltimore into a 1st-and-20. On the second down play, Miami defensive tackle Zach Sieler sacked Jackson for a nine-yard loss and a 3rd-and-25 play. After Jackson scrambled for 18 yards, the Ravens punted.
Defense did its job. Great play by Sieler, with great coverage down field, to make sure the Ravens were not able to make up for Miami’s missed touchdown. The 18-yard scramble by Jackson is worrisome though - Miami cannot let him run loose like that.
Achane’s five-yard run to start the drive ended the first quarter.
Second Quarter Reactions
The Dolphins opened the quarter with a 22-yard pass from Tagovailoa to tight end Durham Smythe, but a sack, a short pass, and an incompletion led to a Miami punt.
Former Dolphins linebacker Kyle Van Noy recorded the sack as the pass rush was immediately in Tagovailoa’s face. He stepped right into Van Noy.
Baltimore began at their own 11-yard line on the drive, with running back Gus Edwards running straight at the Dolphins on the first two plays, picking up 10 yards. Jackson then threw to wide receiver Nelson Agholor for 14 yards before two more Edwards runs picked up 18 yards. Three plays later, Jackson found wide receiver Odell Becham, Jr., 33 yards down the field, moving the ball to the Miami one-yard line. Edwards then finished the drive with a touchdown. Ravens 14-10.
The Dolphins challenged the OBJ catch, but it stood. That was a challenge that needed to be made, but it was just an incredible catch on the sideline. Cornerback Xavien Howard is in the locker room for the Dolphins, with Eli Apple seeming to be in the lineup as his replacement. They are going to need Apple and nickel cornerback Kader Kohou, who was on OBJ on the throw, to step up.
A good kick return by wide receiver Braxton Berrios gave Miami the ball at their own 31-yard line. On 3rd-and-7, Smythe was able to keep the drive alive with a 16-yard reception. A Jeff Wilson, Jr., run for five yards, then two incomplete passes, brought up a 4th-and-5. Miami converted it was a 25-yard pass over the top to Hill, A run for no gain and two incomplete passes forced Miami to settle for a field goal. Ravens 14-13.
The worst news of the drive was Hill appeared to be injured on the last incomplete pass. He seemed to be trying to stay off the ankle that he injured a few weeks ago. With Waddle already out, losing Hill could be disastrous for the Dolphin’s offense.
Baltimore’s drive was one play for 75 yards as no one covered Flowers on a wheel route and the receiver took the pass all the way to the endzone. Ravens 21-13.
Just a broken coverage. Flowers went in motion and it clearly confused the Dolphins’ defense. Linebacker Duke Riley and cornerback Eli Apple both left Flowers, who made them pay.
The Dolphins looked to answer, starting with a 15-yard run from Achane. Tagovailoa then threw to Smythe for 16 yards. From the Ravens 44-yard line, the Dolphins rushed to get a play off before the two-minute warning, with Tagovailoa targeting Cedrick Wilson on the throw, but the pass being picked off by linebacker Roquan Smith, giving the Ravens a chance to extend their lead.
Miami’s offense is out of sync. They need to figure it out at halftime. Hill was not on the field for the drive. They have to come out of halftime with a better plan.
The Ravens began at Miami’s 38-yard line, picking up a yard on a pass to Justice Hill, then two yards on a Jackson scramble, after an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-7, Baltimore’s offense stayed on the field and Jackson connected with Likely for a 35-yard touchdown. Ravens 28-13.
Baltimore is effectively doing whatever they want right now. Miami’s offense cannot figure out what to do against the Ravens’ defense, and the Dolphins’ defense is just not able to cover. Something has to change quickly. Baltimore gets the ball to start the second half. If the Dolphins do not score here, this game could get out of hand quickly.
The Dolphins began their possession with 1:24 on the clock and the ball at their 25-yard line. The possession began with a one-yard pass to Jeff Wilson, then another for five yards. On 3rd-and-4, Tagovailoa found Hill, who returned for the drive, for eight yards and a first down. After Miami used their final timeout, a deep pass to Jeff Wilson fell incomplete. Tagovailoa then threw to Hill for nine yards before an incomplete pass set up 4th-and-1. Tagovailoa found Hill for seven yards on the 4th down attempt, but an offensive pass interference penalty backed up the Dolphins and forced them to punt.
Again, the offense just looks out of sync. They have to figure out something in the second half.
Jackson took a knee to end the half.
Someone wake up the Dolphins. Seriously, they look like they are sleepwalking through this game right now. Neither the offense nor the defense are getting the job done right now. Everyone seems to be out of rhythm, with communication off and players missing assignments. Something drastic has to change during this halftime break.
The Ravens get the ball back to start the second half. Miami’s defense needs to make a statement and get the ball back for the offense.
This is just a half to forget.
Third Quarter Reactions
The Ravens received the opening kickoff and returned it 78 yards. Edward ran for eight yards, then three yards on the first two plays, setting up 1st-and-Goal from the seven-yard line. Jackson then faked a handoff, with Likely left wide open in the middle of the field for the touchdown. Ravens 35-13.
That was not it. Just nope.
Miami’s drive began with an 11-yard gain on a run from Achane, followed by a six-yard reception from Hill. The momentum then died with Tagovailoa being sacked, a false start on guard Robert Jones, and a pass to Berrios for four yards leading to a Miami punt.
Just not getting it done in any aspect of this game.
Baltimore began at their own 23-yard line, then backed up five yards with a false start penalty. Three plays later, Jackson made up for the penalty yardage with a 23-yard pass to Justice Hill and a first down. After a two-yard run from Edwards, the Ravens went back to the running back, but Sieler stripped the ball and safety Jevon Holland recovered for Miami.
Okay, the Dolphins defense made a play. Now the offense needs to do something.
Tagovailoa looked deep to Hill on the first play of the drive, badly overthrowing the receiver and the Ravens picked off the pass.
Or the offense will just give the ball right back to the Ravens.
The Ravens, after the pick, gained eight yards, but were forced to punt on the three-and-out drive.
Good news is Miami got the ball back. The bad news is, the Ravens were clearly just trying to run as much clock as they could there. They took 2:34 off the clock on a three-and-out.
The Dolphins started at their own 22-yard line, moving out to the 42-yard line on the first three plays. A deep pass attempt to Cedrick Wilson fell incomplete, but an illegal contact penalty gave Miami a free five yards and a first down. A couple of plays later, Tagovailoa threw a pass to Cedrick Wilson for 19 yards. Two plays later, Tagovailoa threw deep to wide receiver Chase Claypool in the endzone, who nearly came up with a great catch through double coverage, but the ball fell loose as Claypool hit the ground. Two shorter passes, picking up a total of 13 yards, led to the end of the quarter.
Fourth Quarter Reactions
After the break, Jeff Wilson ran twice for 15 yards and one yard. On 2nd-and-Goal from the one-yard line, Tagovailoa threw incomplete, targeting wide receiver River Cracraft. On 3rd-and-Goal, Tagovailoa found Achane for the touchdown. The two-point attempt failed. Ravens 35-19.
Okay, the Dolphins have a chance to make this a game if the defense can make a stop.
Baltimore began the drive with an 11-yard pass from Jackson to Bateman, then did it again for 15 more yards. Edwards ran for three yards before Justice Hill broke through Miami’s defense and ran for 41 yards to the Dolphins five-yard line. After two runs failed to find the endzone, Jackson found fullback Patrick Ricard in the endzone for the score. Ravens 42-19.
That was not a stop. The Ravens are simply carving apart Miami’s defense. The Dolphins cannot stop Baltimore today.
Tagovailoa threw an incomplete pass to start Miami’s possession, then picked up two yards on a pass to Achane. After a sack lost five yards, Tagovailoa scrambled for nine yards on 4th-and-13, leading to a turn over on downs.
Just nope. Again, nothing happening. Tagovailoa injured his left arm on the scramble, likely ending his day.
Beginning on the Miami 32-yard line, Baltimore started with a run from Edwards for three yards. Jackson then ran for 10 yards before a false start backed them up five yards. A rush from running back Melvin Gordon picked up two yards. Another Gordon run added three yards, with an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Dolphins added another seven yards. Gordon then ran for no gain, and the scored on the seven-yard run. Ravens 49-19.
The short field pretty much ensured the Ravens would score here.
Mike White replaced Tagovailoa after the injury, which was reported as a shoulder issue. White pitched the ball to running back Chris Brooks, but it appeared the running back thought it was going to be a handoff and was not ready for the pitch. The Ravens recovered the loose ball.
Yep. That fits with today’s performance.
Gordon ran for a two-yard loss on first down, then a false start backed Baltimore into a 2nd-and-Goal from the Miami 15-yard line. On the next play, Gordon was stopped for a four-yard loss, with linebacker Bradley Chubb injured on the play as his knee buckled underneath him. Tyler Huntley, who replaced Jackson at quarterback on the drive, threw to thigh end Charlie Kolar for the touchdown. Ravens 56-19.
The score really does not matter at this point. Chubb was absolutely screaming as he lay on the field, loud enough for the broadcast to pick it up. He was carted off the field in what will likely be a season-ending injury and one that could endanger his start to the 2024 season.
Miami ran the ball with Brooks for two yards to take the clock to the two-minute warning. Three more runs for Brooks led to a turnover on downs. Huntley knelt for the Ravens and ended the game.
Just a brutal game all around. The injuries will be lasting, but they were not the reason for this loss. Miami just was outplayed and out-coached on the day. This was ugly from the second possession on for Miami. Just nothing worked and the Ravens exploited the Dolphins all day.