AFC Wild Card Live-Blog: Ravens @ Dolphins, 1st Half

Game: AFC Wild Card Playoff #2
Teams: Baltimore Ravens (11-5, 2nd place, AFC North) vs. Miami Dolphins (11-5, AFC East Champs)
Location: Dolphins Stadium, Miami, FL
Start Time: 1:00 PM EST
Announcers and Network: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, CBS
Miscellany: Subplot of the game to be aware of is obviously former Miami coach Cam Cameron coordinating the Ravens’ offense against the team he led to 1-15 last season; also, any and all Chad Pennington material, since he is “Comeback Player of the Year.” Finally, note fumblings and fuck-ups of the aesthetics behind the “Wildcat” formation.
Favorite: Baltimore (-3)
S2N’s Pick: Miami. Given how rookie QBs apparently do in the playoffs right now, I expect a brain fart from Joe Flacco and it’s tough to see Chad Pennington committing too many turnovers. But at this point, I wouldn’t trust anything I say after yesterday’s failures at picking teams.

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Really? A storybook intro? That computer generated graphic behind Nantz and Simms looks like utter crap. Boo, CBS.

Dolphins kick to Tom Zbikowski, who returns it to the 26. Le’Ron McLain gains 9 on his first carry. Fullback Lo Neal gets the next carry for 3 and a first down. Flacco starts well, hitting Derrick Mason for 18 yards and goes into Dolphins territory. McLain burrows in within the 40. Rush by McLain…FUMBLE!!!! Miami player knocked it loose, Fins come up with it!

Ronnie Brown starts by rushing for two yards past midfield. Pennington hits Patrick Cobbs on the sideline, and he gets some extra yards, for 11 total. Same damn play to Cobbs again, great blocking, and he gets all the way to the Ravens’ 9 after a 30 yard gain. Ricky Williams gets his first carry down to the 1 on first and goal. Fake to Brown, Pennington rolls out, he’s chased and he throws it away. Brown stuffed on 3rd and goal for no gain.

Dan Carpenter on for the chip shot FG, and it’s good. Dolphins, 3-0.

McLain returns this kickoff to the 36. Willis McGahee gets a couple yards on the carry. Flacco overthrows tight end Todd Heap on 2nd down. Flacco overthrows again, but it’s illegal contact on Miami for an automatic first down. Zip pass to Mason for another first at the Miami 46. McLain for another few yards. False start, then another quick pass to Clayton, who stretches for the first down. The rookie QB hits Heap for 31 yards, all the way down to the Miami 4 yard line.

Flacco misses Mason wide after McLain’s stopped. 3rd and goal. Ball caught and dropped by Heap, incomplete. Matt Stover on to kick from 23, good, 3-3.

Cobbs returns the kick to the 32. Two rushes from Ronnie Brown set up a 3rd and 2, and here’s the first Wildcat play. The Ravens don’t fall for it, as they tackle Brown in the backfield. Jim Leonard returns the punt to the 24.

After a first down to end the first quarter, Flacco starts the second by throwing it out of bounds with no one covered. He rolls out on 2nd down, finds no one open, and throws it out again while getting nailed by Channing Crowder. Third down pass goes over the middle to Mason, who gets 11 yards for a first down. False start. McClain runs out to the 47. Flacco’s nearly picked on 2nd down. 3rd down is thrown over Mason out of bounds, thanks to a rush. Punt goes into the end zone, touchback.

Pennington starts by going to Davone Bess for nine yards. Williams runs around the left end for a first down. Another 9-yarder to Bess on 2nd down. First down carry to another RB, whose name I didn’t catch. Toss left to Williams nearly to the 50. Pennington aims high down the field to Davone Bess, and Jim Leonard comes up with a pick, returning it back into Miami territory.

McClain up to the 42, followed by another 4-yard carry. Troy Smith under center for Flacco…and Miami stops him short, Vonnie Holiday on the tackle. Cook’s punt is down at about the 3 or 4.

The Manning-Williams Double Stuf Oreo ads….yeesh, not so much. Awkward probably won’t even begin to describe the actual “match” ads. Pennington gets an encroachment penalty out of the Ravens’ D with a hard count. More breathing room. Brown stopped up at the line of scrimmage. 3rd down and one goes to Lousaka Polite for the first. Holding called on Anthony Fasano. 1st and 19, Pennington short throws to Brown for about 4-5 yards.

Brown out to the 20 out of the Wildcat. 3rd and 8. Pennington goes deep again, underthrows on the blitz, and Ed Reed’s picked it off! He’s running back, gets to the right side, gets a block, and TOUCHDOWN, RAVENS! Kick up and good, 10-3.

So the Dolphins start with the ball again at the 20. Pennington gets walloped back inside the 10, loss of 12 yards on the sack. Cobbs gets tripped up by Ray Lewis.

I applaud all of you making Chuck Norris jokes for Rex….I mean, Ed Reed. 3rd down and 17 pass thrown away in QB pressure from Ray Lewis. Punt to Leonard, brought to the Ravens’ 40. Flacco to McGahee at midfield; illegal contact penalty declined. First down, Flacco going deep to Derrick Mason, and he brings it in at the 17 of Miami while managing to keep his feet inbounds. The booth will review it, though.

“Nobody else in the NFL can design a play like that one.” – Simms, via Mal

As if every coach doens’t have a deep sideline pass in his arsenal. They design plays with that in mind, but the actual execution and foot-dragging….well, that’s just silly, Phil.

Rushing a play to beat the play clock at the 12, incomplete pass. Flacco has to throw it away on 3rd down. Stover out to kick an FG again. 31-yard try is up and good, 13-3, Ravens. Another touchback on the kickoff.

Half over, 13-3, Baltimore. See you in the second half thread, as Miami remains without a TD in the playoffs for quite some time.

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