MIAMI — The Ravens continued to impress in their second preseason game of 2017, traveling down to Miami and defeating the Dolphins 31-7.
The game started almost exactly like the Ravens first preseason matchup against the Redskins. The defense stood their ground and appeared to pick up where they left off against Washington. Meanwhile, Ryan Mallett and the offense needed some time to get into a rhythm before putting points on the board.
Most eyes were on newly-acquired Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler at the start of Thursday’s game, but his night ended after just a few drives. At times Cutler looked like the experienced quarterback that Miami signed him to be, hitting receivers in the numbers and picking up a couple first downs.
If it had not been for a handful of offensive penalties, Cutler could have led the Dolphins on some longer drives. He finished with just 24 yards on three completions. Matt Moore and David Fales took over at quarterback after Cutler’s exit.
The Dolphins offense found success after the Ravens starters got pulled in the second quarter. Senorise Perry capped off a seven play, 56-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown run to put Miami up 7-0. These would end up being the only points for Miami as the Ravens scored 31 unanswered points.
The Ravens offense took a little longer to find the end zone than the Dolphins. Justin Tucker and the special teams unit led the way in the second quarter and had a hand in every scoring play. It all started with a 52-yard field goal to put the Ravens on the board. On the ensuing kickoff, Tucker, of all people, scooped up a fumble by Dolphins returner, Drew Morgan. The fumble recovery would lead to another field goal but the special teams unit was not done yet.
On the next Miami possession, the Ravens defense forced a three-and-out. The punt return team saw an opportunity to go for a block and they got it when Chris Matthews got past his blocker and dove for the ball. Matthews, who is trying to make the team as a receiver, came through with possibly the biggest play of the game.
The block set the offense up deep inside Miami territory for the second straight possession. This time the Ravens found the end zone. After failing to punch it in on the ground, Mallett dropped back and looked to his right for an open receiver. The play appeared to break down, but Mallett avoided defenders and find a wide open Larry Donnell to put Baltimore up 13-7.
As the game progressed, Ryan Mallett and Josh Woodrum threw the ball to a variety of receivers. Among the 18 players to record a reception were Ben Watson and Maxx Williams. The two tight ends made their preseason debut as they continue to rebound from injuries suffered last year. Williams was exceptional in his brief moments on the field. The third year tight end broke two tackles on his way to a long third down conversion and then found himself out of breath after a 40-yard reception in the third quarter.
After Mallett’s exit, Woodrum entered the game and continued to build on his quality performance against Washington. The third string quarterback picked up 110 yards on eight completions and even scored up a pair of rushing touchdowns. The first came on a 14-yard scramble while the second was a designed quarterback sneak. Woodrum followed the first with a successful two-point conversion as well.
Other standout performances came from Javorius Allen in the run game and Jaylen Hill on defense. Allen racked up 40 yards on 10 carries to lead the Ravens run game, while Hill continued to impress defending the pass. Hill is another undrafted rookie looking to make the team and last week he came up with a big interception. This week he posted a couple of tackles and some quality pass deflections to help his resume as the preseason progresses.
The Ravens may have picked up another big win but it did not come without some mistakes. Penalties and fumbles stand out as some of the bigger issues to correct going forward. Unlike the first preseason game, the Ravens did not play a clean game as they picked up 11 penalties totaling 81 yards.
On offense, the Ravens coughed up the ball three times. Fortunately, they were able to retain possession on all of those fumbles, but if you lose just one of them in the regular season, it can be the difference between a win and a loss.
The Ravens will cross their fingers and hope for no injuries following tonight’s win as they prepare for their next matchup. Fans can expect to see the starters get some extended playing time when the Ravens host the Buffalo Bills next Saturday.
Image Credit: Associated Press