Ravens 27

(11-5, 5-3 away)

Dolphins 9

(11-5, 5-3 home)

Coverage: CBS

1:00 PM ET, January 4, 2009

Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL 

1 2 3 4 T
BAL 3 10 7 727
MIA 3 0 0 69

Top Performers

Passing: C. Pennington (MIA) - 252 YDS, 1 TD, 4 INT

Rushing: L. McClain (BAL) - 19 CAR, 75 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: D. Mason (BAL) - 4 REC, 71 YDS

Pennington throws four interceptions in loss

Associated Press

MIAMI -- The Baltimore Ravens had Chad Pennington spinning, ducking, on his heels and on his back. When he did manage to get a pass away, they were often there to snatch it.

Fast Facts

• Chad Pennington (25-for-38, 252 yards, TD) was intercepted four times, breaking the Dolphins record for most picks thrown in a playoff game.

• The four interceptions also surpassed the total interceptions he threw in the final eight regular-season games combined (three).

• The Ravens' five takeaways and four interceptions tied a playoff team record, both coming in the 2000 AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl XXXV.

• Ed Reed intercepted Pennington twice and returned one for a touchdown. Reed tied the NFL record for the most interceptions in a player's first three career playoff games with five (Aeneas Williams of the Cardinals and Rams, and Vernon Perry of the Oilers).

-- ESPN research

• Rapid Reaction

The Ravens came up with four interceptions, including one returned 64 yards for a touchdown by Ed Reed, and won 27-9 Sunday to spoil the Miami Dolphins' first playoff game in seven seasons.

Baltimore stuffed Miami's ground attack and negated the Wildcat, but most of all the Ravens harried Pennington into uncharacteristic mistakes. After throwing only seven interceptions during the regular season, he had four during a 22-minute flurry midway through the game.

"We heard all week that they don't turn the ball over," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "But we force turnovers."

With a rookie coach in John Harbaugh and a rookie quarterback in Joe Flacco, wild-card entrant Baltimore (12-5) won for the 10th time in 12 games and will play Saturday at AFC South champion Tennessee.

Wojciechowski: Scary D

You could have used a whisk broom and a dustpan to clean up what the Ravens' defense left of Chad Pennington and Miami's offense, writes Gene Wojciechowski. Story
• Walker: Remember the Titans
• Graham: Pennington's bad day

"We're going to Tennessee," Reed said. "Be there."

The playoff victory was the first for the Ravens since they beat Miami in a first-round game in January 2002. The result put the brakes on this season's remarkable resurgence by the Dolphins (11-6), who won the AFC East after going 1-15 in 2007.

"It has been a special year; that's why it hurts so much," Pennington said. "You want to keep it going and see how far you can take it."

A soft schedule contributed to Miami's turnaround, and there was nothing soft about the Ravens. They forced repeated mistakes by a team that tied an NFL record with only 13 turnovers during the regular season.

Reed had two interceptions, and Jim Leonhard and Fabian Washington made one apiece. Terrell Suggs recovered a fumble by Patrick Cobbs early in the second half at the Miami 19, and four plays later Le'Ron McClain scored on an 8-yard run for a 20-3 lead.

Pennington, playing his first game since being chosen the NFL Comeback Player of the Year, was sacked three times and faced constant pressure.

"It always starts up front," Ravens defensive tackle Trevor Pryce said. "We had some favorable matchups, and we took advantage of them. It's quite simple."

All good things ...

The Dolphins led the NFL in turnover differential in 2008. That all changed in Sunday's playoff loss against the Ravens.

Season Postseason
INTs 7 4
Fumbles lost 6 1
TO diff. +17 -4

Baltimore's secondary also had Miami overmatched. Pennington, who finished 25-for-38 for 252 yards, said the Ravens made good plays on three of the interceptions, and he regretted throwing only one.

"I just couldn't get them to go my way," Pennington said.

Baltimore allowed just 52 yards rushing, and the Dolphins were limited to 7 yards on two plays from the Wildcat, the innovative formation that helped jump-start their revival.

Field position hurt the Dolphins, who started consecutive possessions at their 20, 6, 20, 20, 20 and 2. But the biggest problem was Baltimore's ball-hawking defense, which led the NFL during the regular season with 26 interceptions, including a league-high nine by Reed.

On the game's pivotal play in the second period, he made an over-the-shoulder catch of Pennington's deep throw after intended receiver Ted Ginn Jr., fell.

"Like playing center field," Reed said.

Baltimore Ravens Miami Dolphins Video

Watch highlights from the Baltimore Ravens' 27-9 win over the Miami Dolphins.

He headed toward the left sideline, eluded a tackler, reversed his field and sprinted for the right corner of the end zone, scoring after Suggs leveled Pennington at the 5-yard line. That put Baltimore ahead to stay, 10-3.

"It felt like the 200 in track," Reed said. "I don't think I caught my breath until the third quarter."

Flacco was only 9-for-23 for 135 yards, but he committed no turnovers and let the Ravens' defenders control the game.

"They've been doing it all year," the rookie said. "You're sitting on the sidelines, and that's what you expect. You get used to it, and you're asking for it every play. Today, they did it on every play."

Trailing 20-3, the Dolphins tried to rally with a 58-yard drive to the 13 before Reed again intercepted Pennington late in the third quarter.

"No one is surprised at the way Ed Reed plays," Harbaugh said. "He may be the best player in the game."

The Ravens' defensive performance was reminiscent of their 27-13 victory at Miami in October. The Dolphins won nine of 10 after that defeat to earn an improbable playoff berth.

"It hasn't been a good day, but it has been a great year," said Miami owner Wayne Huizenga, who is soon expected to complete his sale of the franchise.

His surprising team finally ran out of surprises. After Ronnie Brown made a one-handed catch for a 2-yard score to make it 20-9, Willis McGahee ran 48 yards to set up the Ravens' final touchdown with 3:53 left.

Baltimore offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's unit didn't have to do much else. But with the result, Cameron won more games at Dolphin Stadium this season than in 2007 as Miami's head coach.

Game notes

Pennington's four interceptions were a Miami postseason record. ... Flacco completed two passes for 14 yards in the second half. ... Miami went 2-for-11 converting third- and fourth-down situations. ... Baltimore had the ball for less than 27 minutes after leading the NFL in time of possession during the regular season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1618
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays5662
Total Yards286276
Yards per play5.14.5
Total Drives1112
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-41-3
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs10

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

miaFG8:21Dan Carpenter 19 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 8 plays, 50 yds, 4:15
balFG2:52Matt Stover 23 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 11 plays, 59 yds, 5:30
balTD2:51Ed Reed 64 Yard Interception Return (Matt Stover Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 13 yds, 4:26
balFG0:21Matt Stover 31 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 7 plays, 46 yds, 1:21
balTD7:41Le'Ron Mcclain 8 Yard Run (Matt Stover Kick is Good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 19 yds, 2:09
miaTD13:19Ronnie Brown 2 Yard Pass From Chad Pennington (Dan Carpenter Kick is No Good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 74 yds, 1:51
balTD4:00Joe Flacco 5 Yard Run (Matt Stover Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 71 yds, 3:44