OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) – The Baltimore Ravens finally have a road win, remain tied for first place in the AFC North and appear to have revived a running game that sputtered during the first quarter of the NFL season.
That’s far from good enough for coach John Harbaugh, who apparently will settle for nothing short of perfection.
One day after the Ravens bounced back from an ugly defeat in Buffalo with a 26-23 victory over the Miami Dolphins, Harbaugh was asked Monday is he’s satisfied with the way the season has gone.
“I’d like to be 5-0. That’s where I’d like to be at this juncture of the season,” Harbaugh replied. “But we’re not. We’re 3-2. We’re going try to be 4-2 after this game.”
The Ravens host Green Bay (2-2) on Sunday. The Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers pose a much stiffer threat than the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill, so the defending Super Bowl champs will have to step up their game to remain atop the division.
Baltimore needed a late field goal to dispatch Miami and improve to 1-2 on the road. After accumulating only 24 yards rushing in Buffalo on a franchise record-low nine attempts, the Ravens ran for a season-high 133 yards on 40 attempts against the Dolphins.
“We blocked better,” Harbaugh said. “I thought we could be successful at it in the second half, whereas last week I did not think we could be successful in the second half, the way we were blocking.”
Joe Flacco rebounded from a horrid five-interception performance in Buffalo to throw for 269 yards. But the Super Bowl MVP was under constant pressure, which has become the norm this season. He was sacked twice and his lone interception (which was returned for a touchdowns) came after an oncoming rusher hit the ball as it was being thrown.
Give Flacco credit: He’s willing to stand tall in the pocket and absorb a hit if it means getting an extra split second to find an open receiver.
“I think that’s part of Joe’s greatness. That’s what makes Joe who he is,” Harbaugh said. “You look around the league, and you’ll see a lot of quarterbacks not doing those things, not standing in there. He’s special that way. We don’t win that game without his willingness to stand in there and make those throws.”
In an effort to improve the offensive line, the Ravens last week dealt two draft picks to Jacksonville for left tackle Eugene Monroe. After a short work week, Monroe was on the inactive list Sunday but might be ready to play against the Packers.
“We’re in wait-and-see mode right now,” Harbaugh said.
The Ravens had only three wide receivers available against the Dolphins because of injuries and the decision to cut Brandon Stokley and sign tight end Billy Bajema. Torrey Smith had six catches for 121 yards, Tandon Doss contributed three receptions for 58 yards and Deonte Thompson chipped in with two catches for 11 yards.
“I was really happy to see the way our receivers played,” Harbaugh said. “We only had three of them. We’ve never had that before; we didn’t know how that was going to go, especially in that heat.”
Smith certainly did his part. But he couldn’t have done it alone.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Tandon, DT and myself,” he said. “We knew going in there we would be short-handed and that we were going to need to make some plays, regardless of how many reps we had to be at receiver.”
The defense yielded only one touchdown, 10 first downs and held the Dolphins to 18 percent effectiveness on third down (3 for 16). Baltimore had six sacks, including three by Terrell Suggs – all the fourth quarter. In addition, Elvis Dumervil registered a sack in the closing seconds when the Dolphins were driving for the potential tying field goal.
“(Suggs) kind of took over the game in the fourth quarter and then Elvis put the exclamation point on it with that last sack,” Harbaugh said. “Two drives were snuffed out in the fourth quarter by our defense, mainly by the pressure that we had, mainly by Terrell.”
Harbaugh said guard Kelechi Osemele, who left the game with a back injury, was feeling better Monday. Wide receiver Jacoby Jones (knee), who hasn’t played since the opener, is expected to practice this week and could be ready to face the Packers in a limited role.
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