BALTIMORE—The Miami Dolphins hope a quarterback change won't blunt the momentum they've gathered from a three-game winning streak.
Matt Moore will make his first start of the season tonight against the Baltimore Ravens, who have quarterback issues of a different kind.
Moore replaced the injured Jay Cutler in the second half on Sunday and threw two touchdown passes against the N.Y. 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 co-ordinator 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 defence, 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,” conceded coach John Harbaugh.
“There are going to be a lot of good times ahead for Joe Flacco,” he added.
“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 stressed.
“At this point, it doesn't matter where it is.”
Flacco acknowledged 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 eight-ball,” he said.
A debate already is 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," he remarked. ”And that seems to be the thing [for me].
“I'm fine with that.”
Baltimore, meanwhile, is ranked last in the NFL against the run—an uncharacteristic spot for a defence that long has 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.
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,” said Dolphins' head coach Adam Gase.
“Guys around here just seem to embrace it more than worry about failing.”