In the Ravens' previous two games, they let a 10-point fourth quarter lead slip away late, and needed to go to overtime.
Today, they had no such problem.
Leading 20-10 entering the final 15 minutes, the Ravens turned things into high gear. They grabbed two interceptions, added six extra points to give themselves some insurance, and limited Miami to 65 total yards in the final quarter - 58 of which came with the game all but out of reach with two minutes left.
It all started with the offense, which controlled the ball for nearly 11 minutes in the final quarter and over 20 minutes in the second half overall.
"In the second half, I thought the time of possession was probably the most determining factor of winning that game," head coach John Harbaugh said. "The best defense is a good offense, and we were able to move the chains."
Baltimore got much of their second half offense from running backs Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, who were able to extend drives by breaking tackles at the line of scrimmage and picking up yards after the catch when they caught dump-off passes from Joe Flacco.
Flacco went 12-of-16 for 145 and a touchdown in the final 30 minutes, and while the Ravens were unable to get in the end zone on either of their two trips inside the Miami 10-yard line in the fourth quarter, the two Billy Cundiff field goals that they did get provided a nice buffer.
"When you get a chance to late in the game, you've got to take the ball down the field and put [up] as many points as you can," Flacco said. "I wish we'd have put a little bit more on [the board]. We held the ball pretty well today, and we didn't punt. It was a good day for us."
Defensively, the Ravens bounced back from efforts against the Patriots and Bills where they uncharacteristically let leads slip away. They were able to get pressure on Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne, did a much better job tackling in space, and took advantage of the opportunities to get turnovers, things which they were unable to do the last two times out.
"We know what kind of defense we are, and we just wanted to show that we're not one of those teams that are like that," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. "We kind of wanted to show that we're a good defense. We wanted to hold the score and not let them score on us again."
Interceptions by safety Ed Reed and cornerback Josh Wilson stopped two fourth quarter Miami drives in their tracks, and gave the ball right back to Flacco and company, allowing them to milk more clock.
Lardarius Webb, who grabbed an interception early in the second quarter, said that when the Ravens went into the locker room at halftime, they had their unquestioned leader reminding them they needed to finish the job.
"We had Ray Lewis on us," Webb said. "There is great leadership on our team, and it makes such a difference."
Regardless of how they got the job done, they got it done. In that regard, the Ravens' defense this afternoon looked a lot more like the Ravens' defense we've grown accustomed to seeing over the last decade.