December 03, 2014

The next loss for the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins will virtually end their playoff chances.

After avoiding one last week in stunning fashion, the injury-riddled Ravens look to continue their turnaround by winning a sixth straight meeting with the floundering Dolphins on Sunday.

The only way Baltimore (4-7) and Miami (4-7) will have a shot at the playoffs is to run the table over the final five weeks.

The Ravens very nearly didn't even have that chance before emerging with an unbelievable 33-27 win over Cleveland on Monday night. Defensive end Brent Urban blocked a potential winning field goal as time expired and Will Hill gathered the loose ball and raced 64 yards to give Baltimore a second straight victory and third in four games.

"We're relevant in December," coach John Harbaugh said. "That's where we needed to be."

That's surprising since the Ravens are without quarterback Joe Flacco (knee), wide receiver Steve Smith (Achilles), running back Justin Forsett (broken arm) and linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles) for the season.

"We're battle tested," Hill said. "We've all been fighting all year long, no matter the ups and downs, the injuries, people getting cut. It doesn't matter. We believe in each other. Faith and guts. That's all we have now. We'll continue to fight and be the best Raven team we can be."

Matt Schaub gets his second start in place of Flacco. He completed 20 of 34 passes for 232 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, one returned for a TD by the Browns.

Schaub is 5-0 as a starter against the Dolphins, winning both matchups in Miami. That all came with Houston and he last faced them on opening day of 2012, which was also Ryan Tannehill's first start after being drafted eight overall earlier that year.

Tannehill is trying to lead the Dolphins to their first playoff appearance in seven years, and he's now having direct input on the direction of the offense, which ranks 27th with 20.5 points per game. Miami has dropped four of its last five, averaging 15.6 points and 299.8 yards after totaling 82 and 937 while winning the previous two.

The decision to get Tannehill more involved and simplify the offense came after interim coach Dan Campbell fired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor on Monday, turning play-calling duties over to quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor. The move came a day after a 38-20 road loss to the New York Jets.

"I'm a big believer that your quarterback should have some influence," Campbell said. "It's like anything else - if you have an idea and you're willing to stand up on the table for it, you're going to do everything it takes to make it work. You've just got to make sure it doesn't go too far and you clutter his head with a bunch of things that slow him down."

The Dolphins are expected to run the ball more after doing it 23 times for 82 yards over the last two games. Their 12 yards against the Jets was the third-lowest total in team history.

Lamar Miller had two yards on five carries last week, giving him 148 on 49 attempts with three touchdowns over the last five games. His limited involvement against New York was partly due to Miami falling behind 21-0 before Tannehill hit Jarvis Landry, Greg Jennings and DeVante Parker with touchdown passes as the comeback fell short.

"We have playmakers," said Tannehill, who had 351 yards while throwing a career-high 58 passes. "We just have to find a way to score more points."

That could be a problem with Landry and fellow wide receiver Rishard Matthews nursing injuries. Matthews is out after suffering cracked ribs last week.

Tannehill is also dealing with a Ravens defense that's yielding 269.7 yards per game - 78.3 rushing - over the last three.

Baltimore has also blocked a punt or kick in five straight games to become the first team since Atlanta in 1983 to accomplish the feat.

Javorius Allen, a fourth-round pick earlier this year, will be the Ravens' top running threat after gaining 55 yards on 12 attempts in his first career start Monday. He added four catches for 29 yards and his first career touchdown.

Miami's run defense is last in the league, surrendering 138.5 yards per game - 163.0 during the past four contests.

Including playoffs, Baltimore has won five straight against the Dolphins with four of those victories coming in Miami.

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