1. Road woes end- It had been a long time since the Ravens won a regular season road game. That last win came in November, against the Chargers, where the team needed a miracle play to win the game. It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but a win is a win in this league, and especially when you can do it on the road. As always, John Harbaugh’s team bounced back from a bad loss and put on a good showing. The team needed this win to stay tied atop the division with Cleveland and Cincinnati, and now can go home to play the Packers with a lot less pressure to win.
2. Suggs is officially back- After missing half of last season with a torn achilles, and then playing through a bicep for the rest of the season, it is nice to see the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year back at full strength. Coming into this game, Suggs had recorded one sack in each of the first four games. Against the Dolphins, Suggs had three sacks to help lead the Ravens to victory. That is why Suggs was rewarded with a big contract a few years ago and now that he is healthy, he is wreaking havoc on offenses. Teams can’t solely focus on stopping Suggs like they used to because of the presence of Elvis Dumervil. Dumervil has three sacks on the season and should be able to rack up even more, as teams start to double Suggs and leave Dumervil one-on-one with a lineman.
3. O-Line shuffle- Newly-acquired left tackle Eugene Monroe didn’t play today as he tries to learn the playbook. Left guard Kelechi Osemele left the game early in the first quarter with back spasms and was replaced by backup center, AQ Shipley. Shipley played well in relief and it begs the question if he might deserve a second look at the center position. Starting center Gino Gradkowski has struggled so far this year and the veteran Shipley could be a nice mix up at the position. The line did rebound this week, helping the team run for 133 yards, but the team average was still low. They did a poor job of protecting quarterback Joe Flacco in the first half, and Bryant McKinnie did very little to impress any outside teams that might’ve had interest in trading for him. It will be interesting to see what this offense will do once Monroe gets in there.
4. Receivers step up- Coming into this game the Ravens only had three healthy receivers that would see action. Torrey Smith continues his strong season by adding another 100 yard game. That is no surprise, as Smith has been playing his best football this season. Tandon Doss and Deonte Thompson were the surprises of the day. Doss had three catches, including a 40-yard gain late in the game. Thompson only had two catches, but he was able to make a big impact in the return game, giving the offense good field position on several occasions. Probably the biggest surprise of the day was Ed Dickson. Dickson has struggled mightily all season with countless drops, but today he stepped up. He held his own in the blocking game and made two catches for 51 yards, including a 43-yard catch. Dickson will have to continue to pick up his game if he wants to receive a solid contract at the end of the year.
5. Run defense rebounds- After giving up over 200 yards on the ground last week, the team was able to hold the Dolphins to only 22 rushing yards. Granted, the Dolphins aren’t a very good running team, but they were held to two yards per carry, and the Ravens defense imposed their will on them. They set the tone early and that attitude helped them play aggressive throughout the whole game. They made the Dolphins a one dimensional team, which allowed for them to unleash their pass rush and sack quarterback Ryan Tannehill six times. In order for this team to stay competitive on the road they will have to continue to stop the run.