The Miami Dolphins defense produced a sterling effort to stifle the Baltimore Ravens and help the Florida team claim a 22-10 upset victory on Thursday Night Football.
Star cornerback Xavien Howard forced a fumble and returned it for a 49-yard touchdown to give the Dolphins a 15-3 lead early in the fourth quarter and Justin Coleman intercepted Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson late on to seal the win.
Jackson was sacked four times at Hard Rock Stadium as the 24-year-old – in what was a homecoming as he was born in Florida – struggled for rhythm and accuracy.
A Mark Andrews touchdown with just over four minutes remaining in the fourth gave the visitors some hope.
But quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who had come in to replace an injured Jacoby Brissett, scored a one-yard touchdown run late in the contest to put the result beyond doubt.
The upset victory was the Dolphins’ second straight win, lifting them to a 3-7 record and dropping the Ravens to 6-3.
It was one of the worst offensive performances since 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player Jackson – who threw the late interception with just 43 seconds remaining to wrap up the result – took the reins of the team.
He could be seen on the sideline displaying his anger at some of his teammates and, after the loss, admitted his frustrations.
“I was hot. Like, we weren’t scoring any points,” he told the media. “We were putting our defense out there.
“I feel our defense played lights out, man. We just weren’t getting it done on offense, so that’s why I was mad. If you were on offense, you would be mad, too.”
Tagovailoa, the fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft, is the Dolphins starting quarterback, but has recently missed time due to a fracture in his middle finger.
He was deemed healthy enough to start the game on the bench, but after Brissett was hurt on a sack by veteran Justin Houston on the Dolphins’ opening drive of the second half, clutching his knee in pain, the 23-year-old was thrust back into action.
Although Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said after the game that Brissett could have returned, the team chose to stick with the youngster.
Brissett had completed 11 of 23 passes for 156 yards before going out, but then Tagovailoa completed eight of 13 throws for 158 yards to help keep the Dolphins moving.
And although they were able to help bottle up the typically explosive Ravens offense, the Dolphins owe a large part of the victory to offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg, who recovered two fumbles by his quarterbacks.