MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Joe Flacco walked slowly through the end zone toward his bench, seething as he stared at the scoreboard in disbelief while the other team celebrated a tying touchdown.
The Baltimore Ravens had given up two scores in 95 seconds, and their 10-point lead was gone.
“Frustrating,” Flacco said. “You come off to the sideline, you get mad for a couple of seconds and then you regroup, because you’re getting the ball right back.”
Flacco and the Ravens shook off the setback Sunday, surviving Miami’s interception return for a touchdown in a frantic fourth quarter to beat the Dolphins 26-23.
Flacco directed a drive to set up Justin Tucker’s 44-yard field goal for the lead with 1:42 left, and Miami rookie Caleb Sturgis missed a 57-yard kick with 33 seconds to go.
The Ravens (3-2) sacked Ryan Tannehill six times, rediscovered their ground game, bounced back from a loss last week at Buffalo and won on the road for the first time this season. The Dolphins (3-2) lost their second game in a row, with pass protection again the primary culprit.
Here are five things we learned in Baltimore’s defeat of Miami:
STAYING POWER: The Ravens were stronger at the finish, despite 87-degree weather that should have favored the home team.
“I’m proud to come down here in this heat and win a game,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I think it speaks to our level of conditioning. I think it speaks to our heart.”
The Dolphins trailed 23-13 with 10 minutes left but tied the game with two quick scores, the second coming on Reshad Jones’ 25-yard interception return for a touchdown. Flacco was throwing from the goal line when his right arm and the ball were hit by Dion Jordan, and the pass fluttered to Jones, who ran untouched for the score.
“Joe never gets fazed,” Harbaugh said. “He’s not going to get rattled.”
Flacco moved Baltimore 34 yards for the winning score.
Supporters from up north may have helped to keep the visitors going. Some 10,000 Ravens fans were among the crowd of 68,342.
“It seemed like half the stadium,” Harbaugh said. “They were loud the whole game.”
BAD BLOCKING: With 24 sacks, Tannehill’s on pace to break the NFL record of 76. He has been sacked at least four times in every game, and was dropped four times by the Ravens in the fourth quarter alone.
Terrell Suggs had three sacks, all in the final period, giving him seven this season. But the biggest sack was by Elvis Dumervil, who tackled Tannehill for a 5-yard loss at the Baltimore 39 in the final minute.
“We had good coverage, and I was able to make the play,” Dumervil said.
That sack pushed Miami to the edge of field-goal range, and two plays later Sturgis was wide left.
Tannehill’s on pace to break the franchise record for sacks by the ninth game. A bye this week gives the Dolphins additional time to address their problems with pass protection.
“It’s hard to function offensively when you’re going backward,” coach Joe Philbin said. “We’re going to fix the problems we have. We’re not going to sweep them under the rug.”
The lack of a ground game isn’t helping to keep defenses honest. Miami managed just 22 yards rushing in 11 carries and is averaging less than 70 yards per game.
UP AND RUNNING: The Ravens ran for a season-high 133 yards, including a season-best 74 for Ray Rice. Bernard Pierce had a 28-yard run, Baltimore’s longest this season.
Thanks to the revived ground attack, the Ravens enjoyed a 12-minute advantage in time of possession.
“We all did a good job staying with the run game,” Harbaugh said. “Our backs were solid running the ball north and south against a very good defense. And our offensive line kind of wore them down toward the end.”
KICKING COMPARISON: Tucker was 4 for 4 on field-goal tries, including a 50-yarder. Sturgis, a rookie, made his first three kicks of the game to improve to 10 for 10 this season.
Then came his last-minute misfire, which was close enough that the Dolphins mascot signaled the kick good while watching in the end zone.
“Bad time to miss,” Sturgis said. “I wanted to make sure I got it there. Unfortunately I hooked it pretty good.”
SHUTTING DOWN WALLACE: Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace had seven catches for 105 yards, including a season-best 49-yard reception. But the Ravens allowed him only one catch for 6 yards after halftime.
“They came out in the second half and did a good job of adjusting,” Wallace said, “and we didn’t.”
Wallace dropped at least two passes, and the Ravens kept him out of the end zone. Miami’s $60 million receiver has only one score this year, and he’s averaging only 12.8 yards per catch, well below his career average of 16.8.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)