BALTIMORE -- When Miami running back Jay Ajayi scampered for 21 yards on his first carry, it appeared to be another long day for the Baltimore Ravens? defense.
Baltimore entered the game ranked last in the league against the run and the players talked all week about showing more pride. The Ravens made the necessary adjustments and were not embarrassed again. On his next three carries, Ajayi managed minus-2, minus-3 and minus-2 yards, finishing with 23 yards in the game. Overall, the Ravens allowed 45 yards on the ground.
Baltimore?s defenders showed the Dolphins no mercy with several bone-jarring hits in the dominant 40-0 victory.
?That?s really not what we?re about, giving up a bunch of yards in the running game,? Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. ?They took it personally. I am proud of the way they responded.?
The loss of defensive tackle Brandon Williams had played a key part in the Ravens struggles. Baltimore held opponents to fewer than 100 yards on the ground in its opening two games. After Williams went down with a foot injury and missed four weeks, the Ravens allowed 169.5 yards per game and went 1-3 over that stretch.
Williams returned Week 7 against the Vikings, but Baltimore still struggled to stop the run and allowed 169 yards. The Ravens got some of their swagger back against the Dolphins, who could not get much going offensively.
?We don?t care what people say,? Baltimore safety Eric Weddle said. ?I think everyone would know that about us by now.?
We just look at ourselves in the mirror and we do as a team what we need to do to play better. If we all play good as a defense, we have a chance to win.?
Baltimore?s defense generally sets the tone and it kept the Dolphins pinned back on their own end of the field for much of the game. Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley and Jimmy Smith capped a dominant day with interception returns for touchdowns from 63 and 50 yards, respectively.
Miami quarterback Matt Moore, who was making his first start of the season for the injured Jay Cutler, struggled much of the night, going 25 of 44 for 176 yards with two interceptions. He was sacked three times and had a 47.2 passer rating.
?We stopped the run and we stopped them from throwing,? Smith said. ?We got some turnovers and we scored on defense. It was a good game.?
Harbaugh said the Ravens need at least 10 wins to avoid missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. This means Baltimore needs to win six of its final eight games to reach that mark. Its only opponents with losing records over that final stretch are the Browns, Colts and Bengals.
The Ravens hope they corrected some of the mistakes that cost them over the early part of the season, mainly with an inconsistent offense, costly penalties and some breakdowns on defense. However, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco suffered a concussion against the Dolphins and his status moving forward is uncertain.
Nonetheless, the Ravens are confident the defense can carry them to victories, regardless of whom plays quarterback. They proved that with a completely dominant performance against Miami.
Now, the key is to carry that momentum into the next game on the road against the Tennessee Titans.
?We know how we are capable of playing,? Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs said. ?Today, I think we got a little back to playing Ravens football. You can?t take shutouts for granted, We have two of them this year, which is pretty good.?