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And then the fourth quarter hit like a fire alarm.
The 3-7 Dolphins shocked the NFL world, beating the Ravens 22-10 behind Xavien Howard’s fumble recovery return for a touchdown and Tua Tagovailoa’s game-sealing touchdown sneak, both in the decisive final frame.
The Tagovailoa touchdown nixed Baltimore’s attempt to climb out of a 15-3 hole, as a Lamar Jackson touchdown pass to Mark Andrews with just over four minutes remaining brought them within five points. That was as close as they got, dropping them to 6-3 on the year.
It was an exciting finish. But this was the first three quarters:
Josh Norris @JoshNorris
this is VILE pic.twitter.com/Roytc7HnCo
Granted, people who hate it when teams convert third-down tries—the Ravens were 2-of-14, while the Dolphins were 3-of-13—were in absolute heaven. If you actively root against high-powered offenses, the Ravens (210 passing yards) brought the heat for you. If you aren’t a big fan of efficient rushing attacks, Miami’s execution (60 yards on 22 attempts) was your pigskin Mona Lisa.
To put into perspective just how much of a mess this game was, one of the most exciting plays of the entire contest was a flea-flicker that was also… a screen pass?
And then there was Robert Hunt, Miami’s guard who caught a screen pass that definitely wasn’t intended for him and nearly scored a touchdown after flipping into the air. Granted, he was penalized for being an ineligible receiver, but, hey, it was fun!
BetMGM 🦁 @BetMGM
Top-5 slow-mo replays in NFL history pic.twitter.com/PUfdA8bGQm
Jarvis Juice Landry @God_Son80
Ain’t gon lie the Big Guy made me jump out my seat !!! What A Play 😂😂😂😂😂 #GiveHim6
Ultimately, the Ravens failed to keep pace with the Tennessee Titans (7-2) atop the AFC standings. The Dolphins got a huge win they’ll hope can inspire a second-half surge out of the NFL’s cellar. And the rest of us are still trying to figure out what we just watched.
Tua Tagovailoa, MIA: 8-of-13 for 158 yards and a rushing touchdown
Albert Wilson, MIA: Four catches for 87 yards
Isaiah Ford, MIA: Four catches for 84 yards
Lamar Jackson, BAL: 26-of-43 for a touchdown, an interception and four sacks; 39 rushing yards
Rashod Bateman, BAL: Six catches for 80 yards
Mark Andrews, BAL: Six catches for 63 yards and a score
Jackson and Baltimore’s Offense Was Atrocious
Coming into Thursday night, the Dolphins ranked 30th in yards allowed per game (391.9) and 27th in points surrendered (26.9). So how in the world did a Baltimore offense putting up 427.9 yards (second in the NFL) and 27.6 points (seventh) per game struggle this badly?
Maybe it was the short week. Maybe Baltimore had a poor game plan. Maybe Jackson just had one of those nights.
It took this offense until late in the fourth quarter to finally string together a touchdown drive.
And credit where credit is due—the Dolphins had a great defensive game plan and played inspired football. They blitzed Jackson without fear or reservation, and it consistently paid off. Miami’s defense was fantastic from start to finish.
But for the Ravens, well, this was not the sort of performance you expect from a team with Super Bowl aspirations. There are major questions in Baltimore to be addressed after Thursday night.
Tua Tagovailoa Sure Looked Healthy Enough To Start
The Dolphins will enjoy their win, but it left them with some major questions of their own, namely at how they handled the quarterback position on Thursday.
Jacoby Brissett had to leave the game in the third quarter with a knee injury and was replaced by Tua Tagovailoa, who already was serving as the backup due to a fracture of his middle finger.
Coming into the game, there were questions as to why Tagovailoa was considered healthy enough to be active and the backup, but not healthy enough to start. There have long been questions about whether the Dolphins consider him a long-term answer at the position.
Sam Monson @PFF_Sam
Tua hasn’t shown a whole lot to get excited about so far in the NFL.
On the other hand, Miami has the worst OL in the NFL & I have no idea what his development plan has been. Randomly play him, then don’t, then do.
Seems like he had a REALLY small window to succeed#BALvsMIA
Tagovailoa was excellent on Thursday in relief duty. If he isn’t the starter going forward, it doesn’t have anything to do with his finger.
The Ravens will head to Chicago for a road game against the Bears on Sunday, Nov. 21, at 10 a.m. ET on CBS. The Dolphins travel to the Big Apple that same day and time to face the New York Jets on CBS.