Joe Flacco took a licking but kept on ticking... the guy is tough and was unfazed by the sacks and the hits coming at him due to the depletion of his offensive line.
As Jamison Hensley wrote for ESPN.com: "Of Joe Flacco's 16 career game-winning drives, the one in the Baltimore Ravens' 26-23 win over the Miami Dolphins isn't his most memorable. But, after Flacco gets to rest his aches and pains, he may consider this his most satisfying one. "
During a game in which nothing seemed to go his way -- from warm-ups to the fourth quarter -- Flacco showed winning perseverance in taking all of those shots and coming back to deliver the key offensive play. His 14-yard pass to Torrey Smith set up Justin Tucker's 44-yard, go-ahead field goal with 1:42 left in the game.
"This tested Flacco physically. He's getting hit so many times he should invest some of that $120.6 million contract into life insurance. This also tested Flacco mentally. After having an interception returned for a touchdown -- which wasn't his fault -- he had the Ravens back ahead about six minutes later. "
"Joe doesn't ever get fazed," coach John Harbaugh said. "It seems Joe never gets shaken. Joe is not the kind of guy that's going to get rattled. That's just who he is. That's part of his greatness. And that's why he is who he is as a player."
Flacco was undone by injuries. The Ravens were down to three healthy wide receivers because Jacoby Jones (knee) and Marlon Brown (hamstring) were inactive and Brandon Stokley (groin) was cut Saturday. To make matters worse, left guard Kelechi Osemele suffered back spasms and lasted only one play before backup center A.Q. Shipley took over.
Flacco didn't get much protection from his offensive line, getting hit a half-dozen times and was sacked twice. With a collapsing pocket, Flacco had to throw the ball before he wanted to do so and couldn't follow through on his passes.
On the final play of the first half, soon-to-be demoted left tackle Bryant McKinnie was so slow that Koa Misi went untouched off the edge in sacking Flacco. Then, in the fourth quarter, McKinnie's failure to block Dion Jordan led to Flacco getting hit from behind and an interception returned for a score. By that point, the Ravens had to be second-guessing not suiting up Eugene Monroe, who was acquired last week.
"It was frustrating but you come off the sidelines, you get pissed for a couple of seconds and then you regroup because you're getting the ball right back," said Flacco, who was 19-of-32 for 269 yards. "Stuff like that happens. It was still a tie game with a lot of game left and we knew we had to go win it."
Rebounding has been a recurring storyline in Flacco's career. He improved to 4-0 the week after throwing multiple interceptions in a game (he was picked off a career-worst five times last Sunday), and he won this time with some dramatic flair. This was his first game-winning drive since leading the Ravens back in Denver in last season's AFC divisional playoff game.
One bright spot for Flacco and the offense was Ed Dickson, the tight end who can run a nice route with speed but has had trouble holding onto the ball, and Dickson made two very nice catches to keep Ravens' drives alive.
Frantically trying to protect a slim lead late in the fourth quarter, the Baltimore Ravens' pass rushers let Ryan Tannehill slip away to throw for a big gain.
The next time they made sure he didn't escape.
Elvis Dumervil sacked Tannehill for a 5-yard loss in the final minute to push the Miami Dolphins to the edge of field-goal range, and two plays later Caleb Sturgis missed a 57-yard try, giving Baltimore a 26-23 victory Sunday.
Baltimore finished with six sacks, three by Terrell Suggs. "We weren't perfect, but we made plays we needed to," Suggs said.
Justin Tucker kicked a 44-yard field goal to put the Ravens ahead with 1:42 left.
Then Tannehill, under pressure all day, scrambled to his left before completing a 46-yard pass to Brandon Gibson on fourth down to keep the Dolphins' hopes alive and give them a first down at the 34. But Dumervil pushed them back to the 39. "We had good coverage, and I was able to make the play," he said.
That might have been enough to make Sturgis miss. He was wide left with 33 seconds to go. "Bad time to miss," said the rookie, who had been 10 for 10. "I wanted to make sure I got it there. Unfortunately I hooked it pretty good."
The Ravens (3-2) rediscovered their ground game, bounced back from a loss last week at Buffalo and won on the road for the first time this season.
The Dolphins (3-2) lost their second game in a row, with their pass protection again a culprit. Tannehill came into the game with 18 sacks, the most of any NFL quarterback.
"It's hard to function offensively when you're going backward," coach Joe Philbin said. "We're going to fix the problems we have. We're not going to sweep them under the rug."
Baltimore's Joe Flacco passed for 269 yards and had one interception after throwing a career-high five interceptions last week. He had three completions of at least 40 yards, and each set up a score.
The Ravens ran for a season-high 133 yards. Ray Rice rushed for a season-best 74 and caught six passes for 28. Torrey Smith made six catches for 121 yards.
Despite being outgained and outplayed, the Dolphins mounted a furious rally. Trailing 23-13 with 10 minutes left, they scored twice in 95 seconds. Reshad Jones tied the game at 23 by returning an interception 25 yards for a touchdown. Flacco was throwing from the goal line on third down when his right arm and the ball were hit by Dion Jordan, and the pass fluttered to Jones, who ran untouched for the score.
Flacco moved Baltimore 34 yards to set up Tucker's tiebreaking field goal, his fourth of the day. The score triggered a roar, with perhaps 10,000 Ravens rooters in the crowd of 68,342.
"How many fans did we have here?" Harbaugh said. "It seemed like half the stadium. They were loud the whole game."
Flacco led drives of 80, 73 and 94 yards on the Ravens' first three possessions of the second half, each resulting in a score to transform a 13-6 deficit into a 23-13 lead.
Tannehill couldn't quite keep up. He finished 21 for 40 for 307 yards with one touchdown and no turnovers, but the Ravens' sacks cost Miami 35 yards.
"We knew coming in they had a good pass rush," Tannehill said. "Especially when you get behind 10, we knew they were going to be teeing off. As a unit we just all need to step up and do everything we can to handle the pass rush."
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from Penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Yards per play
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Yards per pass
Sacks - Yards Lost
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)
Defensive / Special Teams TDs