The Miami Dolphins’ offense had no answers on Thursday night, falling to pieces as the Baltimore Ravens cruised to a 40-0 win. This moves the Ravens back to .500 at 4-4, snapping a two-game losing streak, and drops the Dolphins to 4-3.
The one thing people will remember about this game was the vicious hit Kiko Alonso laid on Joe Flacco, knocking him out with a concussion but not getting ejected for the hit. Flacco also needed stitches after getting his ear busted up.
Otherwise, it was a nondescript win for Baltimore. Rayn Mallett came in for Flacco and did just enough to preserve the lead, largely handing the ball off to Alex Collins and staying out of the way. Matt Moore was awful filling for Jay Cutler, who’s out with a rib injury. Flacco opened the scoring with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin, and Justin Tucker made two field goals, which was pretty much all the Ravens needed for the win. They sealed the deal with two pick-sixes in the fourth quarter.
After several weeks of shockingly great Thursday Night Football games, this was a jarring crash to reality. Hardly an inspiring start to the Week 8 schedule.
5 things we learned
1. Kiko Alonso started the biggest debate of the week
Should Alonso have been ejected for the hit on Flacco? Perhaps, but it might not be as cut-and-dried as it looked on first glance. Make no mistake: Flacco was sliding, giving up on the play, and Alonso made a reckless decision going full-bore on the tackle attempt.
Nailing Flacco in the head area and knocking his helmet off might have been accidental, and Alonso doesn’t look like he’s leading with his helmet. Nevertheless, the damage was done, and Alonso can look forward to a hefty fine from the league office soon.
As for Flacco, he at least has a few extra days to get cleared from concussion protocol before the Ravens play the Tennessee Titans in Week 9. Worst case scenario, the Ravens have a bye in Week 10 so they could have Flacco back at 100 percent afterwards.
2. Matt Moore failed to make this a quarterback controversy
With Cutler playing poorly for most of the season, this was a decent chance for Moore to step up and put some heat on the starter. The offense played better last week when Moore took over for Cutler, but Thursday was a completely different story. Moore was inept all night, finishing with 176 yards on 25-of-44 passing and throwing two pick-sixes.
Despite Cutler’s struggles, his job is safe for the time being, thanks to Moore falling flat on his face. There’s a slight chance his rib injury heals in time for Week 9.
3. Alex Collins has earned the starting RB job
Collins was an afterthought when the Seattle Seahawks released him in preseason, but he landed with the Ravens and proved to be a solid talent and easily the Ravens’ best running back. Collins had little trouble displacing Terrance West on the depth chart, but up until now has mostly been splitting time with Javorius Allen. Thursday’s performance showed that Collins deserves to be the lead dog.
Collins finished the game with 113 yards on 18 carries, adding 30 yards on two catches. He showed plenty of burst and wiggle while helping to put the game away in the second half. The Ravens’ offense still has plenty of problems (which will only deepen if Flacco is forced to miss time), but feeding Collins the rock might be the best path forward as they try to scrape their way back into playoff contention.
4. The Dolphins are frauds
The Dolphins entered Week 8 with a 4-2 record, which couldn’t have been more of a mirage. All of their flaws were magnified tenfold in a truly pathetic performance on Thursday night. They would probably be 2-5 if the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons hadn’t blown big leads. They went into halftime with a 20-0 deficit, the fourth time this season they’ve been shut out in the first half. It’s their second shutout loss of the year. This is a genuinely bad football team that’s lucky to still have a winning record.
5. That was three hours of our lives we won’t get back. Let us never speak of this again.
The cat is all of us, trying to escape this game.