The Miami Dolphins came into Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens hoping to pull off an upset against the AFC’s top team. But Lamar Jackson and the Ravens proved too much, rolling to a decisive 56-19 victory.
The game started off promisingly enough for Miami. Led by the quick passing of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins marched down the field on their opening drive, capped off by an 8-yard touchdown pass to Cedrick Wilson Jr. It was a display of the offensive efficiency that has propelled Miami to 11 wins this season.
But the Ravens responded immediately. Lamar Jackson led Baltimore on a smooth 75-yard drive, hitting Justice Hill for a 20-yard score to tie it up at 7-7. It was shaping up to be a shootout between two potent offenses.
The Dolphins struck back with a field goal on their next possession to regain the lead, 10-7. But that would be the high point for Miami. Jackson and the Ravens started to pull away before halftime, taking a 14-13 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Gus Edwards.
Then things really fell apart for the Dolphins. What had started as a competitive game turned into a Baltimore rout, as the Ravens scored 21 unanswered points in just over 4 minutes of game time. Jackson was surgical, exploiting holes in the Dolphins’ defense to build a commanding 35-13 lead.
Miami got a garbage-time touchdown from Tua Tagovailoa to De’Von Achane to make it 35-19, but the outcome was already decided. Baltimore poured it on with three more fourth-quarter touchdowns, including two touchdown passes from Jackson. His final stat line was pristine: 21 for 28 passing, 4 touchdowns and a perfect passer rating of 158.3.
For the Dolphins, it was a sobering defeat. The offense that had shown so much promise early in the game stalled after the first quarter. Tagovailoa passed for 237 yards but threw two interceptions. Star wideout Tyreek Hill was held largely in check, catching 6 passes for 76 yards. The run game found little room either, as Achane’s 14 carries for 107 yards represented nearly all of Miami’s production.
Defensively, the Dolphins had no answers for Jackson and the versatile Ravens’ attack. Jackson repeatedly gashed the Dolphins for big plays both through the air and on the ground. Miami struggled with tackling and coverage breakdowns throughout the contest.
The lone bright spot was defensive tackle Zach Sieler, who recorded a sack and a forced fumble – his third straight game with a sack. But it did little to slow the Ravens’ onslaught.
At 11-5, the Dolphins are still in position to win the AFC East next week with a victory over the Buffalo Bills. But this lopsided loss demonstrates how far Miami still has to go to compete with the elite teams in the conference like Baltimore. The Ravens outclassed the Dolphins in all three phases of the game on Sunday.
For head coach Mike McDaniel, the focus now turns to getting his team prepared mentally and physically for the huge matchup with Buffalo. The Bills are limping toward the playoffs after a late-season slide, so the division is very much within reach. But Miami will need to drastically elevate its play compared to Sunday’s showing.
The Dolphins have been one of the surprise stories of the 2022 NFL season, defying low expectations with an impressive 11-5 record. But this loss is a reality check. Against top competition like the Ravens, the Dolphins have plenty of room for improvement on both sides of the ball. The game exposed deficiencies in pass protection, run defense, and tackling that will need to be shored up.
Still, there is cause for optimism in Miami. The offensive core led by Tagovailoa, Hill and Jaylen Waddle has elite potential. The defense has playmakers like sack specialist Sieler. And Coach McDaniel has proven to be an innovative playcaller who can scheme ways to maximize his talent.
The Ravens may simply be a cut above this season, led by MVP frontrunner Lamar Jackson. Miami isn’t quite ready to compete against a juggernaut like Baltimore. But with another strong offseason and continued development, the Dolphins should remain an ascending team in the AFC.
The path forward is clear: bolster the offensive line, add talent on defense, and build on this season’s successes. The future is bright in Miami. Just not bright enough yet to beat a team as complete and explosive as these Ravens.