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Ravens beat the Dolphins then improved

In the week leading up to the Jets victory, I made the point that the boys from Gotham would be surprised if they expected to see the same Dolphins they defeated in the regular-season opener. The December Dolphins, I argued, had become a far superior team.

Well, this week the Dolphins face the Baltimore Ravens, a team they lost to 27-13 on October 19. And unfortunately for Miami, the Ravens they play in the wild card round of the playoffs Sunday are a far superior team than they were two months ago.

The Ravens came to that first game on a three-game losing skid and searching for an identity and a direction. They come to Sunday's game as winners of five of their last six games and nine of 11 overall. They've gotten better, folks.

When the teams first met, Baltimore rookie quarterback Joe Flacco entered the game with only five games of NFL experience. He had one touchdown and seven interceptions to show for those five outings. But Flacco played well against the Dolphins despite his Big Bird looks.

And he's gotten better ever since. He's thrown six touchdowns and three interceptions in his last six games and that includes a meltdown game against Pittsburgh (Pitt has a good defense) in which he threw two interceptions without a touchdown.

So that's not great news for Miami.

The Ravens have found a solid running combination in Le'Ron McClain and Willis McGahee since that October game. Ray Rice is there also and contributes.

And on that defense that is the lifeblood of Baltimore's playoff life, there has been a drastic tightening against the pass. When the Ravens last came to South Florida, their cornerbacks were troubled. Chris McAlister did not play and the Dolphins exploited the void.

But in Week 7, the Ravens inserted Fabian Washington, a former first-round pick in Oakland, and he has solidified the left cornerback spot. Suddenly that gaping hole in the Baltimore secondary is not there anymore.

So the Ravens are better than they were that indian summer Sunday in October.

Sure, the Dolphins also are better than they were then. But I would tell you Baltimore's leap has been just as significant. If not more.

Oh, about that game that was played in October ... Here are some factoids from the Miami loss that may interest only me: 

The Dolphins used the wildcat formation 5 times, all of them rushes. They gained four yards, which delivered a depressing .8 yards per rush.

The tale of the third down play was an interesting one: The Dolphins converted 5 of 13 attempts against the Ravens vaunted defense for a 38.5 percent success rate. That was, believe it or not, higher than the 37 percent success rate Miami averaged the entire season.

The Ravens offense, meanwhile, converted 6 of 13 third down plays against Miami's defense for a 46.2 percent success rate. That was well higher than the 37.8 percent success the Dolphins allowed throughout the season.

The Dolphins forced and recovered one fumble, that by McGahee. The Ravens had one interception by Terrell Suggs which he returned for a touchdown.

The Dolphins have outscored their opponents 82-62 in the fourth quarter this season. The Ravens outscored the Dolphins 7-0 in the fourth quarter in October.

One major difference for the Dolphins this week should be found right in the middle of the defensive line. Jason Ferguson missed that first game with an injury. Then Paul Soliai was suspended for breaking unspecified team rules. So it was Randy Starks at nose tackle most of that day -- a position he played without working there during the week.

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Interesting colum. But did you have to resort to High School name calling. Seriously, how old are you?

Interesting colum. But did you have to resort to High School name calling. Seriously, how old are you? Flaco deserves better. Shame on you.

I've never been a fan of Mando's exaggerations, like: "Ravenss are a FAR SUPERIOR team to the one we played."

Ravens are 0-5 against the Steelers, Colts, Giants, and Panthers. Their winning record is JUST LIKE ours over teams that are combined 70-103-3 (ours is 70-106, because we did not play Cincy and Eagles who tied their game).
So much for the Ravens strength of schedule!
How indicative really is it, when Ravens went 0-5 against the top of that schedule.

Ravens are pretenders!

Our Miami Dolphins football team has gotten better including the secondary and special team, not to mention our confidence.
Of course we're gonna have our stadium packed and im sure our defense will harrass flacco unlike the first game.
they have a good running game, but hey did you see how we stopped Leon Washington and Thomas Jones on the road.
GO MIAMI!!! PAYBACK TIME!

I think its a fair comment to say they are a much better team than when we played them. Superior! dont know if id use that, but then again, I'm not the one writing the article.

We too are much better than when we played Baltimore last time, however this team does concern me.

They did a very good job against our running game last time and I suspect we will see much of the same.

Against the Jets we saw some new wrinkles. Considering that Sparano went for it on that critical 4th down play late in the game I would not be surprised if he puts the ball in Penningtons hands and the passing game.

What I would be concerned about that is the status of David Martin.. Miami, very surprisingly only dressed 3 WR's on Sunday and had Haynos, Williams and Brown lining up at WR.. hit a nice little bubble to Williams too.

I do believe they will attack C/LG weakness on the Blitz and Stunt on Long... he does well but Alleman is slow to pick it up. He also had 2 false starts on Sunday so he will certainly be tested.

TE's will be crucial and Hynos made a great catch for the TD a few weeks ago but he does worry me.

Polite had some quick hitting carries outside of 3rd and 4th down which seemed to go for a minimum of 4 yards on Sunday and id like to see more of that, especially with the Guards uncovered against Balitmores 30 front.

Big day for the Miami fans in the Stadium... lets get to that Rookie QB... his first playoff game.. he will be crapping himself and hopefully Porter wakes up and starts playing like he did in the early part of the season... In fact we need to see more out of all the backers, I felt Sunday they played their poorest all season and Crowder is clearly slowed by the knee injury.

I think both teams are better, but I agree that Baltimore is the more improved. That being said, Chad had one of his worst games of the year, and Flaco one of his best. We ran the Wildcat a few times, but we have added a lot to it that might work better. I think we can pass on Baltimore and if we hold onto the ball and slow down the run, we have a good chance to win a low scoring game. We just can't let them score a defensive touchdown on us. I think if we get past the Ravens we will have a far easier time against the Titans.

Didnt put my name on the previous post, but just as well, I have more to say..haha.

I do see this game on Defense being all about our DB's, most likely they will have to bring YB up to assist with the Running Game as Baltimore's is dangerous. This leaves us one on one on the outside.

One note on the Wildcat... the play where Ronnie read after the fake and bounced back to the outside towards the direction Ricky was going in, he laid a great block for Ronnie to get a good gain on the outside..

Teams are now not respecting the fake as much so look for an another wrinkle.. also on this play, Chad had a decent block.. (thats from Memory so correct me if Im wrong)

Here's to a Happy New Year to you all.

Pat-London

The Ravens will not know what hit them. We will be unveiling new wrinkles in our offense and ST all post season. We will also be unloading our secret weapon that we have saved all season....Ernest Wilford!!! Just kidding...that guy should be in jail for stealing.

Seriously, we saw a few new wrinkles against the Jets with the blocked punt and the wildcat, fleaflicker, etc... I am thinking that next time we are 3rd and short we should line up Polite like we always do and then throw it down the seam to the TE.

I own the Cuban Menace

Dolphins would be playing the Steelers if they win, not the Titans

Ravens lost to the Titans, not the Panthers. Another way of looking at our 5 losses was that we only lost to playoff teams (as all 5 are in the playoffs). We lost by 3 points to the Titans, and both Steeler games were close. Our worst games of the season were against the Giants and Colts.

It will be a VERY close game in Miami. Good luck and may the best team win.

Armando, stop ruining the party with rational thought. Those days went out the door when this team crossed the .500 mark.

I think we have a pretty good chance considering that in addition to the team improvement we should have two healthy nose tackles this time.

and don't forget we were without out top two NT's in that game. If not for the TD allowed up the gut and a pick 6 by Chad, the game would have been tied. I don't expect CP to throw another pick 6 and our rush defense will be much better.

The Ravens are a better team but they can be beat.

Armando,
Do you think it all significant to mention that our starting nose guard,one only played the first quarter and his backup was suspended that game? Did that have any bearing what-so-ever on the outcome?

Well, we should just forfit the game and declare them the winners now-- more doom and gloom from the knob.

Dolphins will win if they can run the ball and stop the run. If not then they'll lose

Here’s an interesting tale for all my Dolphin brethren… It was strange and wonderful. The Dolphins were down 14 – 7 and things weren’t looking good, the game seemed to be slipping away. It was 3rd and about 5, the Jets looked to be gathering momentum. There I was in my local watering hole surrounded on my left by NE fans spewing their anti-dolphin venom, on the right were those God forsaken Jets fans chanting that obnoxious drivel.

It settled down as Pennington came to the line. For some reason, I have no clue why, your boy Patrick stood up, raised his hands to the sky and shouted, “I invoke the great gods of football!” Pennington took the snap, it looked like a sack but he spun out and somehow found Fasano for the 1st down. A couple plays later he found Ginn for the TD. The Jets got the ball, Merling intercepted it and went in for another score! In one minute the tide had changed and Dolphins rolled on to victory…

I’m sure this was all coincidence and would never take away from the players by declaring divine intervention, but I have to tell you, the Dolphins fans mobbed me. It was the weirdest thing. I had goose bumps! Truth is Sparano’s words are true, if you believe you can do it then anything is possible. So I could care less whether the Ravens are a better football team than when we played them before. We are a better football team and we believe any thing is possible. Roll on Dolphins… Roll on!

Get on the Cuban bandwagon: Flacco Descojonado. Ask your Cuban friends.

To all Dolphins fans Congrats on the great season.From 1-15 to winning the division the next year wow.To Chad way to stick it NY gotta love that.But all dreams and fantasy's must come to an end,and on Sunday it will all come crashing down,when that Ravens d-fense comes rolling in like wild fire into south Florida and all you have is a water pistol to put it out.You'll try to become like wild animals to combat it maybe "wildcats", Ray Lewis and are D-line Aka Animal Control Center will squash that to.Remember the only reason you were had 1 win last year was because the Ravens let you have 1 but the charity is over you want a hand out this go to federal govt. and stand behind Ford and the big 3 oh that's right and the Lions

I won't be as negative as Mando. Yes, the ravens boast an AMAZING D. Eddie Reed and Ray-Ray scare the hell outta me(funny how their best players are from the U). But they are human. Big Ferg wasn't playin week 7 so he will be the diffrence when it comes to stopping the run. I say we force flacco to beat us with his arm.let's put 8 in the box and load up for mcgahee and mclain. The first team to 17 wins. Dan Carpenter will come thru for us in the end. MIA:17 BAL:13

Onward to Pittsburgh!!!
GO PHINS!!!!

There are Ravens fans out there? Come on, get out of here, nobody fears the Ravens and their QB from Delaware. This will be a nip and tuck battle sure between two teams that have got better as the season has gone on. What Armando, in all his brilliance, has neglected to mention is that in the earlier battle - the Dolphins got beat on the run but did not have the focal point of a 3-4 defence playing - a stout NT. Jason Feguson and even Paul Soliai - his top backup were out. This won't happen this weekend though so don't get too used to running for 5 yards a pop - will be much tougher this time.

Baltimore has been playing great the last couple of games, but Flacco will fold and cost his team the game. I dont see the Ravens rushing on Miami in this game. I see Miami playing they way have been playing the last couple of games, finding the way to get the ball to the open guy, moving the chains, and playing outstanding D

We should not be worried about any passing attack, the only thing is their DEF, our staff will find a way to exploit their D, we shall move on to Pittsburgh and play another similar game. Go Phins! Anything can happen

I think that the Dolphins defense knows Cam Cameron's tendencies. And they have a good chance to win the turnover battle. If the O-line can keep the Ravens defense off of Chad for at least the first half. And allow Chad to pick them apart. If goes 15 of 20 in the first half it will break their spirit. Then in the second half run the ball down their throats. Miami has a better offense and they can out score them. GO PHINS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First thing I am a dolphin fan to the core. that being said I root for the Ravens as well because I know the owner and have been to games at the stadium. I watch both teams if I can and this year through all the strife and struggles the dolphins went through, I see a great team. not great elite. And while Baltimore is a great team I have not seen elite. Their defense is elite and that is it. That is how they win games. while Flacco has played good for them Chad has played phenomenal for us. only twice this year were we beaten decisively and Balitimore wasn't one of them. We seemed to lose momentum in that one and let it slip away. Since those losses Miami has played better smarter football than anyone in the league. I do see baltimore as dangerous but they are the Wildcard we have home field advantage and are Rollin' I'd say Mando you are wrong and are obsessed with numbers cuz if you watch the games for both teams you'd be more impressed with the Dolphins Team as of late. even our last loss to New England was amazing. think about it

BoB, we appreciate the motivation... Have some of your buddies come here and tell us what we can't do. The Ravens passed their prime about 4 years ago. We're coming up and you are going down!

I did see the Clayton bomb and their running backs are great but ours are better by far I'd take Ronnie Ricky and Cobbs over any Running back combo this league has to offer. also good point made when someone said we played Ravens without Ferguson and Solial. Also Ted Ginn Jr.'s TDs this year have been in my top five favorites from anyone in the league. Go Dolphins!

Oh Mr Patrick i wish this game was being played in prime time,because the whole nation will get to see Baltimore has an offense now to go along with that great defense,no more stacking 8 and 9 in the box you do that and that so called rookie will make you pay.Take that to the bank(when you cash your unemployment check).Not even close and somebody said 12 th man in Miami you got to be kidding me.

Good call, BoB. Totally agree man.

GO RAVENS!

Armando:
I'm a dolphin fan from here in Maryland. I've seen just about every Raven game this year. You're correct in stating that the ravens improved, but the improvement came just before the dolphin game, while the dolphins started their ascent after the Dolphin/Raven game. The word around here is that the "ligtbulb" went on in Flackos' head in the Miami game. Look at his QB rating in that game vs the rest of the season. Or more dramatically: QB rating that game vs QB rtg prior to that game. I believe his QB rating in that game was his best of the year.
P.S. : thanks for a great cloumn/blog.

The image that sticks in my mind and I'm sure a lot of your minds is how the Ravens called out Cam the Moron after the the first game. Gave him the koolaid bath and rubbed it in our face. Then we had to watch this incompetant idiot laugh at us on his way out of the stadium.

Please Mr. Sparano....DO NOT TAKE THE COLLAR WITH THE SPIKES IN IT OFF JOEY ALL WEEK...DO NOT FEED JOEY ALL WEEK. TURN HIM OVER TO MICHAEL VICK FOR EXTRA TRAINING AND THEN ON SUNDAY....LET HIM LOOSE...ON THE RAVENS AND THEN ON CAM THE MORON.

Defense needs to step up in this one, they have to stop the run, you have to put Flacco on his butt, and we must get some turnovers. Porter and Co. get another shot at CamCam...time to exorcise that demon. Also, the better run that wildcat to set up some kind of trick pass play, The Ravens will eat us up if we try to run right at them...time for the O-line to flex their new found muscles...

Both teams are greatly improved,
but they have to come into OUR HOUSE and us as fans will give our Dolphins a big edge!
GO DOLPHINS!

FLacco does look goofy

he was trying to act tough when he was talking about the playoffs. saying they have the best team bla bla bla. Which made him look even goofier.

bring on Flacco and his goof troop.

I dont like the matchup - the Ravens have speed at defense, a power running game and a QB who can hit the big play. The Dolphins have a tendency to give up the big play. The 'fins need to limit the Ravens to under 14 to have a chance because that defense won't give up much.

If the 'fins get by this one, the next two would be easier, but this is a big "IF" and I dont see it happening.

Great season, though.

BoB, we're looking forward to the challenge... Since my check is direct deposit I think it got to the bank ahead of you.

infact Joe Flacco looks like Cam Cameron's illegitimate son. Carbon copy big birds.

Mando, you stirring the pot?

Gettin us all riled up like that. once again it don't matter because the game is played on the field. I believe that this game will be a tough game to win. I also believe that the Phins can win it all. One game at a time.

Guys,

I agree that Flacco is kind of a weird looking dude. The day we drafted him, I swear there was as much talk about his unibrow as anything else. That being said....

His looks are irrelevant. You guys obviously have nothing else to talk about regarding your sad team, to resort to name calling. You don't see many Ravens fans wasting time talking about how much of fat@sses Tony Sparano and Bill Parcells are.

All you need to know about Flacco is his capability to TORCH your team. He's not a noodle arm like Pennington. Give him time to throw and give Mason, Clayton and Heap some space, and you guys are DONE.

Not to mention our running game GASHING you. BTW- yours doesn't scare us. We shut down Brown and Mr. Basket Case Ricky Williams last time too.

GO RAVENS!

I believe this a winnable game if they play error free ball. Allot of people have forgotten that in the Jets win the Dolphin's did not play a great game; drop passes, penalties at crucial times, special teams miscues. We were lucky that the other team performed worse, because we definitely did not play as fundamentally sound as we have. If we get back to playing sound football, and play to the level the team has been playing on this winning streak, we have a very good chance of beating the Raven's.

Unbelievable ride. I'm just excited that I actually get to watch my first Fins game of the year on TV this weekend here in Ohio! (Stupid Browns are always on) It makes it 20 times better it is in the playoffs!

Lets get the Ravens to bit after a couple of runs up the middle with Brown and then hit em deep.

Get to Flacco! The rookie won't look so good if he doesn't have time!

The first game we played them our special teams were horrible but after they brought Walden and others in it solidified that part of the team and they've been playing great including a blocked punt. As Armando said we were also without both of our nose tackles and I would like to add that our secondary was still trying to figure things out. The defense is playing great right now (not counting the ice bowl because the field was like a hockey rink) and they will have some new looks for Flacco. On a personal note I have a problem with the "big bird" comment about Flacco. There's no need for pointing out someones looks and has only helped to fuel conversation about the same thing. This isn't the girls bathroom in highschool, this is supposed to be a blog about football in particular OUR Miami Dolphins. Sorry Mando but I thought that was beneath you. I still believe it is and I'm hoping you just didn't have your coffee yet or something. Go Phins!

Enough with the noodle arm crap. Anyone who talks about Chad's noodle arm is saying to me "All I know is what I watch the analysts say on TV, so I think Chad has a noodle arm too"

I'd rather have Penny over Flacco in this game any day of the week.

Get over the stupid noodle arm Sh*t. It's old, overplayed, and irrelevant as soon as this team finished 11-5 as division champs.

Flacco "tbiym" please talk crap in here all week. We love when other fans come in here and talk about how their team is going to crush as because so far they've been wrong every time. So the more you trash talk in here the better. Your doing wonders for your teams karma. I also have a sneaking suspicion from your writing style that you're actually that gutless puke of a Jets fan who calls himself Dolphan4life. Keeping it REAL STUPID as usual.

All of the Raven's victories came against teams with a combined record of 71-80-2 (including both division games.) All of the Ravens losses came against teams with a combined record of 61-19.
So all of this talk about the Big Bad Ravens rings hollow if you ask me. The Ravens record says that when they play good teams, they usually lose. Miami, Philly and Dallas were the only teams Baltimore beat this season with a winning record. They lost to the Steelers(twice), Titans, Colts and Giants.
So I don't want to hear all of this crap about Miami's strength of schedule blah, blah, blah...when the same holds true for the Ravens. If you win 11 games in the NFL, it's a great accomplishment...however you choose to slice it.

Hey Bob we're not kidding you but why are you in a Dolphins blog? Very weird that a fan of another team would waste his time on an opponents site (actually it's pretty pathetic) talking trash to people he will never meet about a team he doesn't play for. You act as if you have something to do with the Ravens success this year eventhough your contribution was sitting on your couch eating cheetos while scratching your ass. Our fans are nation wide while your measely bunch are located in little tiny Maryland. You don't need to be in here you're much to busy as I am sure you have a poster of Ray Lewis to defile.

the ravens rookie is gonna look like a rookie when we get to him.

i have a feeling joey is gonna have a big comeback game versus the unibrow-bomber Flacco.

Pennington will have to play better against the Ravens D for us to win. I think we'll have to put up at least 20 to have a chance. I don't think we win scoring in the teens.

I remember when Johnson and then Wannstedt were coaching, and the Dolphins seemed to beat the Ravens every year (except for the playoffs in 2001).

I remember when Shula was coaching and he used to beat up on Marty Schottenheimer (with both Cleveland and Kansas City). We seemed to beat Marty every year, no matter how good his teams were.

I remember when Shula was coaching and it seemed like we lost to the Raiders every year (certainly when we played them in Oakland or Los Angeles). But then when Johnson and Wannstedt took over, the Raiders became patsies for us every year (except for 2000 in the playoffs).

I remember when Shula was coaching and we beat the Bills 20 times straight in the 1970s, but then found it very difficult to beat them when Marv Levy took over.

I remember when Veronica Hamel was one of the most beautiful women in the world, but age does catch up with women.

I remember when I could buy a 150 gram bag of Frito's corn chips for 39 cents, and I used to do so every day on my way home from school, and never gained a pound.

I remember when I didn't feel the need to pee every 40 minutes.

I remember when The Simpsons and Jay Leno and David Letterman were funny, but those days seem long gone.

I remember when songs had melodies. Now it's almost as if the composer is trying to write the most unlistenable, worst-sounding thing imaginable.

I remember when Ronald Reagan galvanized the country with right-thinking and steadfast principles.

I remember when I made love to my to-be-wife 8 times in 36 hours in Buffalo, because there really isn't all that much to do in Buffalo.

I remember when blogs allowed a maximum number of characters per entry so cretins couldn't run on and on, spouting their nonsense.

I am as big a Dolphin fan as anyone on here (My son is named Zach Thomas), and I hope that we win more than anything, but I am afraid we are going to be spanked by the Ravens. There is no question their defense is better than ours. Their offense is probably a wash, but if we can't move the ball then we are in trouble. All we can hope for is that our defense steps up and their rookie QB has another off day. If we can force some turnovers without turning it over ourselves (See Suggs running for the score after picking off Penny) then we have a good chance at it. Let's face it though. We have a lot of holes left on this squad to be a superbowl team, but it has been one heck of a year and we will be that much better next year once we are able to fill some of them. Let's hope for a surprising showing and a win though!

I always read every bit of Dolphins news that I can and I always see people saying "Salguero sucks" and I could never understand why. Until today... I want the 45 seconds of my life back please...

Chad and the Penny's will make Ravens D look silly and undisciplined....from the first row on Sunday at the swamp, it was plain to see the diversity and absolute concentration of the Fins offensive talent, have you noticed how absolutely flawless brownie and the boys handle the rock...watching the O is like watching the Lakers Showtime offense...anyone can score at anytime from all three TE's to the three wides to the four RB's..LONDON made a critical catch...Martins concentration on the catch where he got dinged was incredible....Kicking game was great with the 48 yard FG and the pooch punt at the end....coverage was excellent...NONE OF THEM WANT TO FACE PENNY (or Tony, for that matter) IN THE HUDDLE HAVING DROPPED A PASS OR RUN AN INCORRECT ROUTE...Our confidence is soaring and I envision another Fish victory standard fare...Ravens limited to less than 20 points and we score 24, but it is not even that close, as the Ravens will be scoring meaningless at the end....our D has risen and is peaking at the right time and the HOUSE WILL BE ROCKING like the old days....24-14 Fish going away!!!! MANDOOOOOUGHH

flea flickers, double reverses, jump passes, you cannot sit back on D like old man Lewis and those criminals like to do....we will have them on their heels backpedalling from the gitgo....

DOUBTER!

Thats why they play the game doubter....check back Sunday at 4pm

i would be more afraid to face the Chargers San Diego doubter than the Rave

good reporting Armando. always give the bad news first. please provide more good news if any.

I'm a lifelong Miami fan who lives near Baltimore. I've seen all the Ravens games this year.

I think this game has the makings of being one of the post-season's best matchups.

Don't underestimate the Ravens. They are a solid, all-around team. Flacco has the makings of being a great QB. He's got a strong arm, doesn't make a lot of mistakes and when he does, he learns very quickly not to make them again. He is capable of the big play downfield.

The Ravens defense is very tough and may mean the difference in the game if Miami can't push them around. The punter, Sam Koch, has been extremely effective at setting the table for the Ravens D this year. Miami is going to need some solid returns to counter this and to win the battle for field position.

Everyone in my house will be wearing purple and black. Not me. GO FINS!!!

It's the Holidays people be nice...

its the holidays for the hollidays...:)

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