Smith has his moments in loss

MIAMI -- Troy Smith brought the Baltimore Ravens within the threshold of victory in his most significant action since winning the Heisman Trophy at Ohio State. Playing in relief of starter Kyle Boller when he left the game midway through the fourth quarter with a mild concussion, the rookie quarterback's scrambling bought him time and helped position Baltimore to nearly break its losing streak.

However, the Ravens ultimately lost 22-16 in overtime Sunday to the Miami Dolphins as kicker Matt Stover missed a 44-yard potential game-winning field goal.

"It could have been better," Smith said regarding his second NFL regular-season game. "There were some passes that I made that should have been completed. I'm my own worst critic, so I've still got some things that I've got to improve on."

Smith used his mobility to avoid a possible safety on his first drive. Then, he drove the Ravens 59 yards to set up Stover's game-tying field goal in the final seconds of regulation. He completed 5 of 11 passes for 49 yards for a 58.5 quarterback rating.

While his statistics weren't impressive, Smith did demonstrate pocket awareness and the ability to keep plays alive with his feet. His longest completion was 15 yards, and he hit wide receiver Devard Darling on a nine-yard throw for a near-touchdown prior to Stover's kick. Yet, Darling was ruled out of bounds at the 1-yard line.

Overall, Smith played with confidence and he didn't commit a turnover.

"Stepping into a situation like that, your comfort level has to increase," Smith said. "You have to be able to rise to the challenge.

"There are 44 other guys out there in pads that are counting on you and looking at you. They're looking into your eyes and seeing what kind of player and what kind of man you're going to be, so I had to be comfortable."

INJURY UPDATE: Middle linebacker Ray Lewis dislocated a finger on his left hand during the third quarter, an injury that drew blood and was initially described as a fracture.

However, team spokesman Kevin Byrne said that Lewis just dislocated it.

Nick Greisen replaced Lewis and registered three tackles.

"I thought I did fine," Greisen said. "Now, I'll have the week to prepare with the guys and for them to get a better feel for me and my leadership. Ray is a wonderful guy to learn from."

The Ravens were already shorthanded on defense, playing without starting cornerbacks Chris McAlister (strained knee) and Samari Rolle (shoulder) and defensive end Trevor Pryce.

Undrafted rookie free agent Willie Gaston played a solid game in place of Rolle, picking up playing time at the expense of struggling cornerbacks David Pittman and Corey Ivy. Baltimore was also without tight end Todd Heap (strained hamstring), wide receiver Demetrius Williams (high-ankle sprain) and safety Gerome Sapp (hamstring).

Plus, the Ravens deactivated kicker Rhys Lloyd, running back Cory Ross, defensive tackle Amon Gordon and offensive tackle Adam Terry.

STRUGGLING: Rookie offensive tackle Marshal Yanda had a rough game. He wasn't ready for All-Pro defensive end Jason Taylor's pass-rushing repertoire.

Taylor had two sacks and three quarterback hits. Plus, he blocked a 50-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half.

The Dolphins lined up Taylor at wide receiver on the goal line, but Jamaine Winborne knocked Cleo Lemon's fade pass out of Taylor's hands.

"I should have caught it," Taylor said. "I told Cleo next time to just throw it up, I'll go up and get it. I think the guy is about 5-foot-10 and I feel like I could have outjumped him. Still, the ball touched my hands and I should have caught it."

HOMECOMING: Rookie outside linebacker Antwan Barnes recorded his second NFL sack and hit Dolphins quarterback Cleo Lemon twice as the Miami native and former Florida International standout had a strong game in his hometown.

"You can have all the sacks and that stuff, but you got to come out with the victory," he said.

QUOTABLE: Offensive guard Jason Brown on the team's emotional state: "It's tough. We're still trying to hold onto our pride. Nobody will understand what we're going through."

Stover on losing to an 0-13 team: "How I feel is, 'Darn it, we should have won that game. We're a better ball club than we've been playing. We should have won that game.'"

QUICK HITS: The Ravens named former University of Miami stars Lewis, running back Willis McGahee and safety Ed Reed as their game captains. ... McGahee said this isn't the season's low point. "The low point of the season was when we lost to the Patriots," he said. "The Dolphins were due for a win. It's not like they were sorry. Congratulations to them boys." ... Rookie wide receiver Yamon Figurs caught his first NFL pass, hauling in a 36-yard throw from Boller in the first quarter to set up a field goal. "That's what they brought me here to do," Figurs said. "It's football, it feels good, but we lost. We've got nowhere to go but up." ... The Ravens dropped to 0-4 all-time at Dolphin Stadium.


1. The woeful Baltimore Ravens discovered a new rock bottom, digging an even deeper hole this time by stamping themselves as arguably the worst team in franchise history with a 22-16 overtime loss to the previously-winless Miami Dolphins.

It was the Dolphins' first victory in 17 games, a streak dating back to last season. It extended the Ravens' franchise-record losing streak to eight games. Traditionally automatic kicker Matt Stover pushed a 44-yard field goal attempt wide left, hooking an attempt he routinely makes.

Then, the Dolphins (1-13) capitalized on the golden opportunity. On their third play of the extra period, former Baltimore castoff quarterback Cleo Lemon hit Greg Camarillo over the middle for a 64-yard game-winning touchdown. The Dolphins' first victory since a Dec. 10, 2006 win over the New England Patriots set off a raucous celebration on the field and in the stands. It happened with the majority of the 1972 perfect Dolphins team watching from the sidelines and serving as honorary game captains.

2. Ravens coach Brian Billick wound up paying dearly for a conservative decision at the end of regulation. Instead of going for the touchdown on 4th-and-goal at the Dolphins' 1-yard line, Billick opted to have Stover kick an 18-yard field goal to tie the game. Jason Taylor blocked Stover's 50-yard field goal attempt to end the first half, also recording two sacks and three quarterback hits.

3. Quarterback Kyle Boller got knocked out of the game with a mild concussion and middle linebacker Ray Lewis left the game with a dislocated, bloody finger that was initially described as a broken hand. With rookie quarterback Troy Smith operating in relief for the second half of the fourth quarter, Baltimore's offense suddenly woke up. His mobility helped him avoid a safety on his first drive. Then, he drove Baltimore 59 yards on 11 plays, passing for three first downs and a throw that was almost a touchdown. Officials ruled that Devard Darling went out of bounds at the Miami 1-yard line even though it appeared that he might have gotten his knee down in the end zone.

4. Leading 13-10 in the second half, a deep Boller pass richocheted off Darling's hand to cornerback Michael Lehan for an interception. If Darling had been able to hold on, it could have set up another score. Instead, Miami answered with a 22-yard field goal to tie the score at 13.

5. A shorthanded Ravens defense playing without cornerbacks Chris McAlister, Samari Rolle, defensive end Trevor Pryce and Lewis was incapable of containing Lemon. He completed 23 of 39 passes for 315 yards, one touchdown and no interception for a 93.4 quarterback rating.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

Ravens Insider Top Stories