‘Gunslinger’ QB Moore takes over for Dolphins against Ravens
BALTIMORE (AP) — The Miami Dolphins hope a quarterback change won’t blunt the momentum they’ve gathered from a three-game winning streak.
Matt Moore makes his first start of the season Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens, who have quarterback issues of a different kind.
Moore replaced the injured Jay Cutler in the second half last week and threw two touchdown passes against the New York Jets in a 31-28 comeback victory. Cutler remains sidelined with cracked ribs, so Miami (4-2) will go with the 33-year-old Moore in this AFC matchup.
“He’s going to take some chances. He’s going to get that ball out quick,” Miami offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said of Moore. “He has a little gunslinger to him.”
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had the reputation of a sharp shooter — until this year. In his 10th season as Baltimore’s starter, the former Super Bowl MVP has thrown eight interceptions compared to only five touchdowns as part of the NFL’s 32nd-ranked passing attack.
In his defense, Flacco has been operating behind an injury-riddled offensive line and with a receiving group that last week at Minnesota was without injured starters Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman.
“There’s been a lot of adversity,” coach John Harbaugh said. “There are going to be a lot of good times ahead for Joe Flacco. Stick with him. It’s going to be fun to watch.”
The Ravens (3-4) have lost four of five, including their past two at home.
“The bottom line is we just have to win football games,” Flacco said. “At this point, it doesn’t matter where it is.”
Flacco acknowledged that his inconsistency has put the Ravens in a must-win situation.
“The fact that I have been up and down, now you are climbing out of a hole and you are putting yourself behind the 8-ball,” he said.
Some things to know about the Dolphins-Ravens game:
COMPARING QBS: A debate is already brewing as to who should start when Cutler is healthy. Moore’s supporters argue he energizes teammates.
“He probably wears it on his sleeve a little bit more,” Christensen said. “He’s kind of outgoing. He’s all over the place.”
Moore embraced the “gunslinger” nod given to him by Christensen.
“Guys describe guys in different ways,” Moore said, “and that seems to be the thing (for me). I’m fine with that.”
RUN DOWN FEELING: Baltimore is ranked last in the NFL against the run, an uncharacteristic spot for a defense that has long been known for its toughness up front. The Ravens have allowed the opposition to eclipse 100 yards rushing in five straight games.
“Oh man, it’s a yucky taste in our mouth right now. All hands are on deck,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “All 11 guys, back end and the front seven, of course, we’re going to iron this thing out.”
Maybe it happens against Miami, the only NFL team without a rushing touchdown this season.
VERSATILE LINEMAN: Dolphins reserve offensive lineman Jesse Davis is liable to line up anywhere against the Ravens. Davis won praise replacing injured left tackle Laremy Tunsil last week.
With the status of Tunsil (knee) and guard Anthony Steen (foot) ruled out, Davis is likely to replace either of them and make his first career start.
In addition, Davis played defense last week in a goal-line situation. Defensive coordinator Matt Burke joked he borrowed the 321-pounder after head coach Adam Gase used linebacker Rey Maualuga for one play at fullback.
“I figured if Adam was going to steal Rey, then I get one of his,” Burke said.
FAMILIAR FOE: The Ravens and Dolphins are in different divisions, yet this is the fifth straight season they’ve met. Baltimore has won five of the past six in the series, including a 27-9 win in the 2009 playoffs.
“Coach Harbaugh does a great job,” Gase said. “The way he tries to build a team, personnel-wise, it’s always going to be a little bit different because over time, things change. But you can see the same personality traits in certain aspects of their game.”
CLOSE CALLS: Miami has won 12 straight games decided by seven points or fewer . That streak was lengthened the past two weeks, when the Dolphins rallied from a 17-point deficit at Atlanta and with their comeback from 14 points down against the Jets.
“I think a lot of it has to do with probably more of the personality of the players more than anything,” Gase said. “Guys around here just seem to embrace it more than worry about failing.”
AP Sports Writer Steve Wine in Miami contributed to this report.