5 reasons for the Ravens' outcome against Dolphins

5 REASONS FOR THE OUTCOME 1. Regardless of whether NFL rushing leader Jamal Lewis' costly overtime fumble was his fault or was caused by a bad exchange from quarterback Anthony Wright, an overriding fact remains true...

It was credited as Lewis' 20th career fumble, the 13th he has lost and his fourth lost fumble of this season. And the miscue directly led to the Baltimore Ravens' 9-6 maddening defeat to the Miami Dolphins as a sterling defensive effort was squandered for the second week in a row. Lewis wants to review the film before passing judgment on the fumble. No matter how many times he watches it, though, the game was ultimately decided four plays later.

After Miami middle linebacker Zach Thomas dove on the football, kicker Olindo Mare went on to redeem himself for a miss in regulation. He booted a 43-yard field goal for the deciding points. The field goal set off a raucous celebration at Pro Player Stadium. The loss tied Baltimore (5-5) with Marvin Lewis' upstart Cincinnati Bengals for the AFC North lead.

2. Beyond Lewis' fumble, the entire offense shares culpability for this one. Moments after safety Ed Reed intercepted Brian Griese in the fourth quarter to give the Ravens possession at the Dolphins' 36, the prime scoring chance evaporated. Wright delivered the football behind Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap and safety Sammy Knight intercepted. Rather than pound Lewis forward to set up kicker Matt Stover for a potential game-winning field goal, the Ravens coaching staff still opted to throw the football downfield.

3. There was a multitude of penalties committed by Baltimore for a total of 10, including receiver Travis Taylor's false start on 3rd-and-2 at the Dolphins' 26 one possession before Wright's second interception. Wright's first interception on a deep pass intended for a stumbling Marcus Robinson, helped put Mare in place for his first of three field goals.

4. The red zone offense is still a major issue for Baltimore. In the first half, Lamont Brightful's 73-yard kickoff return to the Dolphins' 15 was wasted. Heap's false start was followed by Lewis getting stuffed for a loss and two incomplete passes. Instead of a touchdown, Baltimore settled for a field goal. That's a continuation of a season-long trend as the Ravens entered the game ranked last in the league in red zone scoring. The Ravens have made 30 trips inside the 20, but have scored only nine touchdowns as Stover has kicked 18 field goals.

5. Bottom line: The Ravens' defense held Miami to an average gain of 3.6 yards per offensive play, 3-for-15 on third downs as Griese went 13-for-32 for 126 passing yards and a 39.3 quarterback rating. Yet, the Ravens still couldn't find a way to win. It's obvious what the problem is. The team vows to search for solutions as its standing in the moribund AFC North is beginning to slip away.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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