Joe Flacco

Ravens overcome vicious hit on Joe Flacco to destroy Dolphins

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Ravens overcome vicious hit on Joe Flacco to destroy Dolphins

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BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was dazed and bleeding as he was helped off the field.

Diagnosed with a concussion after absorbing a late hit by Miami linebacker Kiko Alonso late in the second quarter, Flacco was taken to the locker room and did not return.

Fortunately for the Ravens, they didn't need him in a 40-0 rout of the Dolphins on Thursday night.

Alex Collins ran for a career-high 113 yards, and Baltimore (4-4) returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the most lopsided shutout in franchise history.

In the midst of one of his best performances of the season, Flacco was hit high by Alonso while sliding at the end of an impromptu run. Flacco's helmet flew off his head, and the 10-year quarterback appeared wobbly as he struggled to his feet.

Alonso was flagged for unnecessary roughness, providing Baltimore with a first down that ultimately turned into a touchdown.

Flacco was initially placed in concussion protocol, and by halftime was ruled out.

"Joe had a concussion and a cut ear," coach John Harbaugh said. "They were stitching it up without any anesthesia, so he's a tough dude. That's as much as I know."

Flacco went 10 for 15 for 101 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin.

After losing four of five to fall under .500 for the first time this season, the Ravens put it all together with a showing that included a 63-yard interception return by C.J. Mosley and a 50-yard pick-six by Jimmy Smith.

"We coached a lot better, obviously. And we played a lot better," Harbaugh said. "It was just a much better game for us."

The Dolphins (4-3) came in with a three-game winning streak after rallying from 17- and 14-point deficits in the previous two weeks. There would be no comeback in this one, not against a swarming Baltimore defense that limited Miami to 196 yards.

Matt Moore was making his first start of the season, for an injured Jay Cutler. Four days earlier, Moore engineered a victory over the Jets after Cutler left with fractured ribs.

In this one, Moore completed 25 of 44 passes for 176 yards. He was sacked three times, and both his interceptions turned into scores for Baltimore.

"This is tough. These are hard ones," Moore said. "You don't ever go into a week preparing and expect it to turn out like this. I don't know what to say right now. It's just tough, tough. We got to figure some stuff out. I got to figure some stuff out."

Moore received little backing from the running game, which generated only 45 yards against the 32nd-ranked rushing defense in the NFL.

"It was inept. We're not doing anything," Miami coach Adam Gase said.

Baltimore went up 7-0 when Maclin slipped behind Bobby McCain and Nate Allen to haul in Flacco's perfect pass on the right sideline.

Justin Tucker added field goals of 55 and 48 yards in the second quarter. After Cody Parkey missed from 50 yards for the Dolphins -- his first misfire in nine tries this season -- Flacco began the drive that would end in the end zone without him.

The late hit by Alonso gave Baltimore a first down at the Miami 5. Three plays later, Ryan Mallett threw a 2-yard TD pass to Benjamin Watson.

Mosley iced it with 14:15 left when he snared a poor throw by Moore near the line of scrimmage and turned it into his first career interception return for a touchdown.

As the Ravens were closing in on another score, a few players exchanged shoves and punches before Chris Moore pounced on a fumble in the end zone.

Overseeing an offense focused on protecting a sizable lead, Mallett went 3 for 7 for 20 yards.

Cat nap
A cat ran onto the field in the fourth quarter, providing some amusement after the game had lost all suspense.

The feline reached the Miami sideline and skipped around a bit before running out of sight.

Injuries
Dolphins: Allen hurt his calf in the second quarter and did not return.

Ravens: TE Vince Mayle was placed in concussion protocol in the second quarter. ... LT Ronnie Stanley hurt his shoulder in the third quarter but returned to action.

Up next
Dolphins: Miami plays the second of three straight night games, this one at home against Oakland on Nov. 5.

Ravens: Baltimore faces Tennessee on the road on Nov. 5, the first meeting between the teams since 2014.

For Torrey Smith, North Dakota trip revealed critical quality about Carson Wentz

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For Torrey Smith, North Dakota trip revealed critical quality about Carson Wentz

Torrey Smith spent four years with Joe Flacco, who won a Super Bowl in 2012. And he spent two years with Colin Kaepernick, who lost a Super Bowl in 2012.

And he sees those Super Bowl qualities he saw in Flacco and Kaepernick in Carson Wentz.

"I think Carson has that make-up," Smith said. "That's why they picked him here."

Smith was one of the Eagles' receivers that spent some time this offseason with Wentz in Fargo, North Dakota, where Wentz starred at North Dakota State.

And he said after visiting the North Dakota State football complex and spending some time around the Bison program, he understands how Wentz got to be the way he is.

"I'd say one of the biggest things I learned about him just by going to North Dakota is you see how and why he's that way," Smith said. "Obviously, he's like that as an individual, but the way they built their program is the same way.

"There's nothing celebrated about all the championships they won. You see it in their trophy case, but you go in that weight room, there's nothing. It's work time. It's all about getting to the next one. Their success, they're worried about the future, and I feel like he's kind of the same way."

The North Dakota State football program has won 13 national championships in either NCAA Division II or Division I Football Championship Subdivision, including five in a row from 2011-15. Wentz was the starting quarterback on the 2014 and 2015 championship teams.

"I remember asking him about that one time: 'You ever talk about the records or anything?'" Smith said. "And he said, 'No, we kind of just go about our work.'"

Wentz is off to a phenomenal start this year for the 5-1 Eagles. He has thrown 13 touchdown passes and just three interceptions and has had a passer rating of at least 90 in each game during the Eagles' four-game winning streak.

Smith was asked after practice Tuesday whether Wentz fits in with those other Super Bowl quarterbacks, and he didn't hesitate to say yes.

"There's nothing that's too big for him," Smith said. "People kind of look at him (differently) because he's young, but his mentality is not a young guy at all."

Eagles-Ravens 5 things: Banged-up Birds take on No. 1 run defense

Eagles-Ravens 5 things: Banged-up Birds take on No. 1 run defense

Eagles (5-8) vs. Ravens (7-6)
1 p.m. on FOX
Eagles +5.5

Facing incredibly long odds to reach the postseason, the Eagles head to Baltimore on Sunday to take on a Ravens squad still in the thick of a playoff race.

The Eagles can't afford to lose any of their three remaining games to keep whatever slim hopes they have alive. As for the Ravens, a win would keep them in the hunt for first place in the AFC North.

Needless to say, the Ravens have plenty of motivation to eliminate the Eagles once and for all.

1. It's all up to Carson now
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is on pace to finish second all-time among NFL rookies for passing attempts in a season, so it's safe to say the team is relying on him already. Then again, there might not be much of a choice versus a Baltimore defense that ranks No. 1 in the league against the run.

The Ravens are holding opponents to a paltry 75.5 yards per game on the ground, almost eight full yards better than the next closest team. It's not purely a result of seeing less rushing attempts than other defenses, either, as the unit is also first while allowing 3.4 yards per carry.

The fact that Darren Sproles has been ruled out with a concussion and Wendell Smallwood landed on injured reserve with a knee injury only further limits the options in the backfield. Meanwhile, Eagles coach Doug Pederson admitted the short passing game may have to supplement the ground attack against this defense.

All of which points to Wentz reaching, and likely exceeding, his average of 38 pass attempt per game. That means if the Eagles are to have any chance on Sunday, the signal-caller will have to be sharp.

2. Offensive line woes
Of course, Wentz should have his work cut out for him behind a patchwork Eagles' offensive line that is losing bodies at an alarming rate.

Lane Johnson is serving the final game of his suspension, Halapoulivaati Vaitai is out again with a knee injury, Matt Tobin hit the IR this week, and Allen Barbre is questionable after he was unable to practice all week with a hamstring. Unless Barbre can go — and who knows what shape he'll be in — the Eagles will be down to their fifth right tackle in rookie Isaac Seumalo, which is a scary thought.

Meanwhile, Brandon Brooks has been a surprise inactive in two of the last three weeks due to anxiety, and at this point, who's to say if and when that will strike again. If the right guard can't go, either second-year pro Josh Andrews or rookie Dillon Gordon would make their first NFL start in his place.

It's got the potential for disaster, especially considering how frequently Wentz is likely to drop back on Sunday. Best case scenario, Barbre and Brooks are both able to tough it out, although the Eagles certainly can't count on that.

3. Familiar faces
The Ravens are not short on great coaches. Of course, that should come as no surprise to Eagles fans. Many of them served the franchise during the Andy Reid era.

There's head coach John Harbaugh, of course, who was the Eagles special teams coordinator from 1998 to 2006 and defensive backs coach in '07. There's offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who held the same title under Reid from '04 through '12. Offensive line coach Juan Castillo had the same job here for 13 of his 18 seasons with the franchise. Even Baltimore's defensive backs coach, Leslie Frazier, spent four seasons under Reid from '99 to '02.

Of the four, only Castillo has not served as an NFL head coach. There's a ton of wisdom and experience on the Ravens' sideline.

Of course, there's a bit of bling over there as well. Harbaugh went on to guide the Ravens to a Super Bowl win in 2012, so it's not just a matter of experience. He knows how to win, too.

4. Bombs away
Despite the emphasis on X-plays in recent years, the Eagles remain unable to stop the deep ball. The defense has given up 12 pass completions of 40 yards or more this season already, which is just one back for most in the NFL.

That is a particularly troubling trend this week, as Ravens quarterback and Audobon, New Jersey native Joe Flacco throws one of the best deep balls in the league. Not only can Flacco push the ball down the field, he has the weapons to do it, too. Steve Smith is still hanging around after 16 seasons in the NFL, Mike Wallace is having a resurgent year and 2015 first-round draft pick Breshad Perriman is one of the fastest players in the league.

Not surprisingly, the Ravens have connected on nine passes of 40 yards or more this season, which is tied for seventh. Based on the Eagles' track record, Flacco should have opportunities to add to his total.

Now 31, Flacco has been less reliant on the vertical passing game than in seasons past. Regardless, teams have had little trouble picking on Eagles corners Leodis McKelvin, Nolan Carroll and Jalen Mills throughout the season. Expect the Ravens offense to open it up a little and Flacco to let it fly against this group.

5. Previous encounters
If the Eagles are somehow able to overcome Flacco, a tremendous coaching staff, the No. 1 run defense in the NFL and all the absences along their own offensive line, the franchise could accomplish a first on Sunday.

This will be only the third time the Eagles have played the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium, a building where they have yet to come away victorious. The clubs played to an unremarkable 10-10 tie back in 1997, while a 36-7 loss to Baltimore in 2008 was memorable for all the wrong reasons — namely "financial apology" after Donovan McNabb was benched for Kevin Kolb at halftime — although that loss did spark a run to the NFC championship game.

The Eagles have fared better against the Ravens at home, winning both previous meetings, most recently in 2012.

Depending what transpires around the league on Sunday, a win in Baltimore might not be enough to save the Eagles' season. That being said, a road victory against a tough Ravens squad — not to mention the franchise's first at M&T — would be a huge positive in a season that's been very short on bright spots.