Scouting report

September 17, 2000|By Ken Murray

Ravens rushing vs. Dolphins run defense -- RAVENS

Outside of two long runs by Jermaine Lewis and Priest Holmes last week, the Ravens averaged 2.9 yards a carry against Jacksonville. Once they got behind, they threw to get yardage. Miami's big run stoppers are DT Tim Bowens and MLB Zach Thomas, but the Dolphins are allowing 4.2 yards a carry - matching the Ravens' rushing average. Expect the Ravens to establish the run.

Ravens passing vs. Dolphins pass defense -- EVEN

QB Tony Banks needs to place a premium on protecting the ball against a ball-hawking Miami secondary. The Dolphins already have seven interceptions and seven sacks on defense. CB Sam Madison has two picks, and DE Trace Armstrong, who plays only on passing downs, has 3.5 sacks. In the absence of the injured Qadry Ismail, the Ravens' top wide-receiver threat is rookie Travis Taylor, who is making huge strides.

Dolphins rushing vs. Ravens run defense -- RAVENS

The Ravens' rush defense has dominated so far, giving up league lows of 38 yards a game and 1.9 a carry. The tackle rotation of Tony Siragusa, Sam Adams and Lional Dalton is tenacious, and MLB Ray Lewis cleans up. Miami RB Lamar Smith is averaging 4.5 a carry, and he makes the tough yards after contact. But he won't approach that average against the Ravens.

Dolphins passing vs. Ravens pass defense -- RAVENS

Ravens CBs Chris McAlister and Duane Starks were shelled by Jacksonville's pass combination of Mark Brunell and Jimmy Smith. They won't get anything like that this week. The Dolphins ranks 30th in pass offense after two weeks, and QB Jay Fiedler is completing less than 50 percent of his passes (27-for-55). He was overwhelmed last week by the blitzing Minnesota defense, and rarely threw deep. The Ravens will blitz him, too.

Special teams -- EVEN

As expected, Jermaine Lewis didn't get a chance to return any punts last week, but should get an opportunity tonight. The Ravens' Corey Harris and Miami's Fred Marion are both solid kick returners. Kyle Richardson of the Ravens and Matt Turk of the Dolphins are tied for the league lead with seven punts inside the 20. Turk has a better gross average, but Richardson has a better net.

Intangibles -- RAVENS

The Ravens were brutalized in their only national TV appearance last season, losing a Thursday night debacle at home to Kansas City, 35-8, and they'd like to erase that memory. The question is whether they will be emotionally depleted after the comeback win over Jacksonville. Miami will honor retired QB Dan Marino at halftime, but the only way that helps the Dolphins is if he can turn back the clock and resuscitate their haggard offense.

Prediction -- RAVENS

This is a game that could turn ugly fast because of the mismatch the Ravens' defense will enjoy. The Dolphins won't be able to run and may not be able to pass. Only a bad night by the Ravens' offense will keep the Dolphins close. Ravens, 27-3

THE BREAKDOWN

Records: Ravens 2-0; Dolphins 1-1.

Line: Ravens by 2.

Vs. spread: Ravens 1-0; Dolphins 1-1.

Series: Dolphins lead 1-0.

Last meeting: Dolphins won, 24-13, on Oct. 19, 1997, at Baltimore.

Quick hits: Ravens aim for their first-ever 3-0 start. ... QB Tony Banks has six TD passes in two games this season, compared with 17 in 10 last year. ... Ravens have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in their past 19 games, tops in the AFC. ... Dolphins have won seven of their past 10 home games. ... Miami has plus-eight turnover differential, best in the NFL. ... DE Trace Armstrong has 3 1/2 sacks, tied for second in the league.

Injuries

RAVENS: Out-WR Qadry Ismail (knee). Questionable-QB Trent Dilfer (knee); LB Brad Jackson (abdomen); TE John Jones (knee). Probable-DT Tony Siragusa (knee); CB Duane Starks (thigh); DE Keith Washington (shoulder).

DOLPHINS: Out-DT Daryl Gardener (back); CB Ray Hill (ankle). Doubtful-CB Ben Kelly (knee); WR Tony Martin (foot). Questionable-LB Robert Jones (ankle); CB Terrance Shaw (knee). Probable-G Mark Dixon (back); QB Jay Fiedler (shoulder); S Greg Jeffries (hamstring).

PIVOTAL FACTORS

Playing the field. The Ravens need to make Miami QB Jay Fiedler drive the length of the field, with the knowledge that it's extremely unlikely he can do it against this defense. They don't want to give the Dolphins any easy scores with a short field.

Locate the tight end. Last week, Ravens QB Tony Banks found TE Shannon Sharpe for the game-winning touchdown pass in the final minute. They won't need any heroics if Banks can find him sooner.

Stuff the run. Once the Ravens take Dolphins RB Lamar Smith out of the equation, it'll be a long night for Fiedler.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.