Down by 10 points in the second quarter, their playoff chances fading, the Baltimore Ravens finally picked up a first down. After that, the Miami Dolphins couldn't stop them. The Ravens rallied with consecutive touchdown drives of 97 and 75 yards, then added the clinching score after a favorable replay reversal to beat Miami 28-13 Sunday.
A gamble by coach John Harbaugh in the third quarter helped. The Ravens made a first down on fourth-and-1 in their own territory, jump-starting the TD drive that put them ahead. The victory gave Baltimore (8-5) a significant edge over Miami (7-6) in the AFC's scramble for a wild-card playoff berth. The Ravens also tightened the race for the AFC North title, helped by a loss by first-place Cincinnati (8-4-1) to Pittsburgh.
"Our fate is in our hands," Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "If we win, we're in. That's the mentality we'll have down the stretch."
The Dolphins, who haven't been to the postseason since 2008, are now a long shot with three games to go. Their frustration boiled over in the final minutes, when defensive tackle Jared Odrick yelled at coach Joe Philbin on the sideline after a long Ravens gain.
"Emotions were running high," Odrick said. "I probably should have calmed down a little earlier."
Said Philbin: "Football's an emotional game. We had a discussion. I've already had another discussion with him. Football gets fiery out there. It's good."
But the Dolphins showed little fire in the final three quarters, when they were outgained 425-161. The Ravens played 17 minutes before they made a first down and still finished with 26 first downs and 447 yards. Elvis Dumervil led Baltimore's defensive charge with 3 1/2 sacks, increasing his season total to a franchise-record 16. Miami's Ryan Tannehill threw for 227 yards and a score, but was sacked six times. Baltimore allowed the Dolphins only 249 yards.
"We settled down and started grasping how they were trying to play us," Dumervil said. "We started making plays."
The Ravens' Joe Flacco went 25 for 33 for 269 yards and two touchdowns, and overcame an interception in the end zone. He also ran for a score. Flacco and Harbaugh improved to 5-0 against the Dolphins, including four wins in Miami. The Ravens won without defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, suspended during the week for a performance-enhancing substance violation, and they bounced back from a last-minute loss last week at home to San Diego.
"We've got a team that's playing pretty well right now and gaining some confidence," Flacco said.
Leading 14-13, the Ravens were helped by a replay reversal midway through the fourth quarter. Flacco fumbled attempting to throw and Miami recovered, but a review determined his arm was moving forward when he lost the ball, and the play was ruled an incomplete pass. On the next play, Justin Forsett scored on a 2-yard run. The Dolphins gave up 183 yards rushing and have allowed 661 in the past three games.
The Ravens went three-and-out on their first three possessions, but drove the length of the field in the final 3:08 of the first half, capped by Flacco's 1-yard pass to Steve Smith on third down with two seconds left. That cut their deficit to 10-7. When Baltimore went for a first down on fourth-and-1 at their 34 in the third quarter, Flacco gained 2 yards on a sneak.
"We've got an offensive line that can do something like that," Harbaugh said. "We had decided if we got close there, we were going to go for it."
Flacco went on to hit Kamar Aiken with a 13-yard pass for the score and the lead. Miami was up 10-0 in the second quarter when a long completion and scoring threat were negated by a penalty on guard Mike Pouncey for being downfield on the play. That infraction seemed to deflate the Dolphins.
"It's definitely disappointing, especially having the lead, having the upper hand early on, then falling apart," Miami linebacker Jelani Jenkins said.
Dolphins S Louis Delmas was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with a right knee injury. Jenkins left the game in the third quarter with a foot injury and didn't return. C Samson Satele left the game with an undisclosed injury in the fourth quarter. ... Ravens CB Anthony Levine left the game in the first quarter with concussion and didn't return. CB Danny Gorrer left the game with a knee injury in the second half and didn't return. ... Flacco was intercepted for the first time in four games. ... The Ravens' three RBs combined for 156 yards rushing and averaged 6.8 yards per carry.
This story was written by The Associated Press.