BALTIMORE (AP)—The Baltimore Ravens did their part to get into the playoffs.
It wasn’t enough.
After beating the Miami Dolphins 30-23 Sunday, the Ravens had to wait until the late afternoon games ended to learn their postseason fate.
To secure the final AFC wild-card spot, Baltimore (9-7) needed to defeat Miami and have Buffalo lose to Pittsburgh, Denver lose to Indianapolis and Jacksonville either tie or lose to Oakland.
Buffalo lost while the Ravens played, and the other two games began soon after Baltimore walked off the field for what turned out to be the final time this season.
“Time for a little Chinese food and a little game-watching,” Ravens coach Brian Billick said before hurrying home.
The late games probably ruined his meal. Denver won 33-14 to clinch the final wild-card spot and officially end Baltimore’s season.
“Regardless of what happens with the other teams, we had to win this game in order for us to even have a chance,” Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller said before leaving the locker room. “I think we made some good strides today.”
Losses earlier in the season to Cleveland, Kansas City and Cincinnati put the Ravens in a situation where they had to depend on others to reach the postseason. That same kind of inconsistent play was on display Sunday during a game that Baltimore should have won handily.
“If there is anybody to blame for the situation, it’s definitely us,” Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said.
Playing against a downtrodden Miami team that was forced to start third-string quarterback Sage Rosenfels, Baltimore built a 27-7 lead, then allowed the Dolphins to close to 27-21 before holding on.
“If we could win 40-7, that would be great,” Boller said, “but that’s the way it is.”
Jamal Lewis scored a touchdown and ran for 167 yards, giving him 1,006 for the season.
“He threw me the football,” Reed said with a grin. “It’s just another record; it will be up there for however long it will be up there.”
But the Ravens’ defense, playing without injured linebacker Ray Lewis (broken wrist), was burned for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage and later yielded a 90-yard drive against a team that concluded its worst season since 1969.
The Dolphins (4-12) finished 3-4 under interim coach Jim Bates. Nick Saban has already been hired to coach Miami next season.
“When I took over eight weeks ago we were 1-8 and it was a tough situation,” Bates said. “For the last seven football games, we’ve been in every one. Today we were down 27-7—20 points—and there’s no quit in the football team. We came back and still had a chance to get back in it.”
Miami used a 95-yard kickoff return by Wes Welker—the Dolphins’ first for a score since 1989—and a 35-yard TD run by Sammy Morris to get to 27-21.
Rosenfels launched his first NFL start in grand style, throwing a 76-yard touchdown pass to Chris Chambers on his initial play. Chambers got behind cornerback Gary Baxter, caught the pass at the Baltimore 42 and sprinted down the left sideline to complete the longest reception of his career.
Starting for injured A.J. Feeley (ribs), Rosenfels went 16-for-38 for 264 yards and three interceptions.
“It wasn’t enough. That’s how I feel,” Rosenfels said. “I didn’t make enough plays to win the game. I made some key mistakes that I’ve got to learn from.”
After Rosenfels shocked the Ravens with his TD pass, Baltimore countered with a 64-yard touchdown drive capped by a 1-yard shovel pass from Boller to tight end Terry Jones.
“You got to come back and answer it, and we did,” said Boller, who went 14-for-27 for 142 yards and a touchdown.
The Ravens led 10-7 before Johnson tipped a pass with his left arm, gained control and ran 6 yards for his first NFL touchdown. It was the team-record eighth interception returned for a touchdown against the Dolphins this season.
Baltimore went up 20-7 at halftime and increased the margin on a 2-yard run by Lewis early in the third quarter.
Miami Pro Bowl DE Jason Taylor (shoulder) left in the third quarter and did not return. … The Ravens were 0-6 when allowing 20 or more points.