Written by: Andrew Mindzak
After finishing 5-11 just one year ago, the Baltimore Ravens are headed back to the playoffs. On Sunday, the Ravens defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-7 to clinch the #6 seed in the AFC. Their next game will be on Sunday in Miami, against the surprising Miami Dolphins, who had an even bigger turnaround than the Ravens. Just last year, the Dolphins went 1-15, and then amazingly finished 11-5 this year. Even though the Ravens will be on the road, they are the early favorite, and with their defense and running game at full strength, why wouldn't they be?
Baltimore started off the first quarter slow against the Jags, going down 7-3 heading into the second quarter. David Garrard found Alvin Pearman for a 23 yard TD pass to put the Jags up 7-3. Once the second quarter started, however, Baltimore turned the heat up. The Ravens scored 21 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 24-7 lead at the half. They would tack on another Matt Stover field goal in the third quarter before wrapping up a 27-7 win to give them a wild card spot in the AFC playoffs. Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco completed 17 of 23 passes for a career high 297 yards, helping Ravens fans completely forget that mistake called Kyle Boller. Le'Ron McClain ran for 70 yards and 2 scores, and Mark Clayton caught 4 passes for 128 yards to lead the way.
The Ravens will play the Dolphins next in Miami on Sunday at 1:00pm EST. Baltimore played the Dolphins once this year, beating them 27-13 in Miami in mid October. The game was closer than the 14 point margin would indicate. Miami actually out gained the Ravens, and kept within 1 touchdown until about 6 and a half minutes left in the game, when Willis McGahee punched in the final score of the game. With Miami playing even better now, this game will certainly be an exciting one to watch. If Baltimore pulls out a win in Miami, they would face the Tennessee Titans in the next round.
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