Maybe for some it got lost in the translation of the Ravens' gut-check 26-23 win over the Dolphins last Sunday, but I sure as heck noticed the incredible run-defense numbers of Baltimore in that game…
Ryan Mink of the Ravens.com NFL website made the observation, too…
"Perhaps no unit made a bigger statement than the Ravens’ run defense, which gave up 203 yards the week before in Buffalo. Baltimore totally shut down the Dolphins’ running attack, holding them to just 22 total rushing yards. Miami ran just 11 times and averaged only two yards per carry."
The 22 rushing yards allowed is the fourth-lowest total in Ravens franchise history. The record was set by the Ravens’ Super Bowl winning defense in 2000, when it held the Bengals to just four rushing yards. The Ravens now rank fifth in the NFL in average yards allowed per carry (3.4) and sixth in yards per game (89.8).
“I thought our defense played dominant football,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said Sunday. “Our defense believes that they should be a dominant defense. We’ve got to get better every week, though. There’s still plenty of things to work on.”
The Ravens did it without two of their top run stuffers in nose tackle Terrence Cody and defensive end Marcus Spears. Rookie Brandon Williams helped fill the void.
OLB Terrell Suggs was in on some big run-stops, too.
Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin was impressed by the Ravens’ run defense after the game.
“They had a couple of good calls. They came off the slot once or twice and had some run pressures that made it a little bit challenging to run the football on occasion,” Philbin said. “They have some big guys who are some good run defenders. … We knew we might be throwing the ball a little bit more because of the style of play and the defensive calls they were utilizing.”
The Ravens made a statement from the start. Miami hit a 9-yard pass to Mike Wallace on the first play from scrimmage. But Baltimore, led by defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, stuffed Dolphins running back Lamar Miller twice for no gain, resulting in a punt.
At halftime, the Dolphins had nine carries for just seven yards, an average of 0.8 per rush. They all but abandoned the run game at that point. Second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw 40 passes as the Dolphins became one-dimensional.
The issue the week prior was allowing solid gains to the Bills on first and second down, which put Buffalo in more manageable third-down situations. It also caused them to stick with the ground game. The Bills toted the rock 55 times.
The Ravens corrected issues throughout the Buffalo game, and finished allowing a respectable 3.7 yards per carry by the end. The run defense helped Baltimore pull off a near comeback.
This past Sunday, Baltimore’s run defense snuffed out Miami’s run game from the beginning. It’s what safety Matt Elam pointed to as making the biggest difference for the defense.
“We stopped the run this weekend,” Elam said. “They couldn’t beat us.”