Even as Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw for 469 yards and a franchise record-tying six touchdowns, it only led to a come-from-behind victory over the Baltimore Ravens because the Dolphins defense clamped down for late stops against quarterback Lamar Jackson, who torched Miami through three quarters.
“The last four offensive drives we had were touchdowns, and in that span, there was 3 points given up,” coach Mike McDaniel said after the Dolphins’ stunning 42-38 victory on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. “That’s complementary football when your team needs it the most. It doesn’t happen without a complete effort by everyone to press forward.”
The Ravens’ four possessions after Dolphins fourth-quarter touchdowns: A fourth-and-1 stop for turnover on downs; a punt after a minute was taken off the clock by Baltimore with a 7-point lead; a field goal after the Dolphins tied it; and the final Hail Mary attempt that fell short as time expired.
“You have to play four quarters of football,” said cornerback Xavien Howard, who nearly had a pick-six that he dropped when Miami was down a touchdown. “We played four quarters of football, especially in that second half. We made adjustments and made plays.”
Although the Ravens dominated much of Sunday afternoon, while they were complacent late, Tagovailoa threw fourth-quarter touchdowns to Jaylen Waddle for the winning score, two deep balls to Tyreek Hill and an earlier one to River Cracraft to get the comeback going.
“Once the offense scored and we made a stop, then that’s kind of like the slight little spark that we got,” said safety Eric Rowe, who had six tackles on Sunday. “Then a couple of deep balls to Tyreek and our defense said to ourselves, ‘We’ve got to hold it down.’ The momentum started shifting.”
Added defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, who led Miami with eight tackles, two for loss: “It was a gritty win on both sides of the ball and on special teams. We stuck together when we needed to and made plays when it mattered. We still gave up a lot of plays and a lot of yards, but when we needed them, we had them.”
Jackson finished with remarkable numbers: 21-of-29 passing for 318 yards, three passing touchdowns, plus a 79-yard rushing touchdown as part of 119 yards on the ground. Miami blitzed Jackson heavily early, including a cornerback blitz with Howard, and Jackson was finding the open receiver consistently.
“Both sides of the ball knew what happened last game,” said McDaniel. “They knew that there would be different preparation, and our defense knew that they couldn’t surprise the guys. To [Jackson’s] credit, he took advantage. He definitely rectified, he can put to bed those issues he had last year.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be the same formula. Some situations did come up where we audibled to some of the pressures, and they took advantage of us. Good for them. That’s to their credit. They did a great job with that, and I’m just happy that the guys got this learning experience. Fortunately, you can end up winning the game, as well, but I know our guys learned a lot from this game.”
Armstead, Wilkins play
The Dolphins had Wilkins, left tackle Terron Armstead and slot receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. all play on Sunday after entering with injury concerns.
Armstead (toe), Wilkins (back) and Wilson (toe) all entered Sunday questionable. Running back Salvon Ahmed (heel) was also active against the Ravens after going in questionable.
Instead of Ahmed, Myles Gaskin was a healthy inactive running back in Baltimore. Other inactives were rookies in linebacker Channing Tindall, wide receiver Erik Ezukanma and quarterback Skylar Thompson and tight ends Cethan Carter and Hunter Long.
Tindall was added to the game status report early Sunday morning with an illness, initially listed as doubtful before being ruled out 90 minutes ahead of kickoff. Carter (concussion) and Long (ankle) were already deemed out entering Sunday — Carter on Friday after missing the week of practice in concussion protocol and Long on Saturday, when he was downgraded from questionable.
The Dolphins started Armstead at his usual left tackle post after he missed Wednesday’s practice and was limited for Thursday and Friday drills with the toe injury. Miami’s three-time Pro Bowl free-agent acquisition solidified one side of the offensive line in a week where the team placed right tackle Austin Jackson on short-term injured reserve with an ankle injury.
Greg Little started in Jackson’s place. Practice squad tackle Larnel Coleman was elevated to the game-day roster on Saturday for reserve duties.
Wilkins’ back issue and Wilson’s toe limited them for Thursday and Friday practices. Wilson also missed Wednesday’s session.
Wilson left Sunday’s game with an injury to his ribs in the fourth quarter. Hill left the game momentarily in the second half with cramps but returned to catch two late touchdowns in the come-from-behind effort.
Meanwhile, the Ravens had cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey (groin) and Marcus Peters (knee) start against the Dolphins wide receiver corps. Fellow cornerback Brandon Stephens (quadriceps), though, was inactive. All entered Sunday questionable.
Humphrey and Peters have five Pro Bowls and three All-Pro selections between the two of them. Peters played for the first time since 2020. The Ravens, who surrendered career-high passing yardage and touchdown totals to Tagovailoa, were already without cornerback Kyle Fuller on injured reserve.
Running back J.K. Dobbins (knee) didn’t make his 2022 debut for Baltimore as he was among the team’s six inactives, as were offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle), defensive tackle Travis Jones (knee), wide receiver James Proche II (groin) and tight end Nick Boyle.
Stanley was a second left tackle that was out for the Ravens with Ja’Wuan James on injured reserve. Stanley and Proche were doubtful for Sunday. Fullback Patrick Ricard (calf), who entered Sunday questionable, was available for the Ravens.
On Saturday, Baltimore signed cornerback Daryl Worley to the active roster and elevated wide receiver Raleigh Webb. In addition to Coleman, Miami elevated wide receiver River Cracraft for the second time in two weeks.