OWINGS MILLS — The silence has been deafening, an absence of the ear-splitting noise associated with traditionally raucous football stadiums.
It’s a phenomenon triggered by how the Miami Dolphins have taken over road venues this season, reversing the conventional principle of home-field advantage.
The Dolphins have emerged as the undisputed kings of the road this fall, tallying four victories without a loss away from South Florida.
“Well, that feels good,” Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown told Baltimore reporters during a conference call. “That means you’re doing something right and that means as a football team we’re on the right track when you can get the other team’s crowd to silence a little bit. So, that adds a little incentive for you as a team to give you a little bit more motivation, but it just says that you’re doing the right thing as far as taking care of your business.”
Heading into today’s game at M&T Bank Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens (5-2), the Dolphins (4-3) are about to square off with a team that takes defending its home turf extremely seriously.
The AFC North co-leaders haven’t lost in three home games this season.
Consider the Ravens duly impressed with the Dolphins’ road accomplishments.
“For them to do what they’ve done, that’s spectacular because it’s hard to win on the road,” running back Ray Rice said. “We always say, ‘Take care of home.’ It’s kind of like a reversal for them. They’ve taken care of the road.”
The Ravens have won six consecutive home games, but the Dolphins are undoubtedly the toughest opponent to visit Baltimore this season.
The Ravens are coming off a bye week and have won 13 of their past 16 home games.
They’re also 5-0 at home since 2001 immediately following a bye week and 2-0 under the director of coach John Harbaugh.
So, this shapes up as an intriguing midseason clash between two of the top teams in the AFC and the entire league.
“Yeah, it’s got kind of a championship atmosphere to it,” outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “Something’s got to give. They’re a great road team, and we’ve got to do a great job of protecting our house taking care of our business at home. Much respect to them, and we’re going to definitely defend our home.”
Over the past decade, the Ravens are 61-22 in Baltimore.
That’s a .735 winning percentage, ranking third in the NFL during that span behind the Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts.
“The 12th man, the city of Baltimore,” Suggs said when asked why he thinks the Ravens are ultra-successful at home. “They want to see us play and get fired up. And we never want to disappoint them. We’ve felt that empty feeling of having our fans leaving our stadium disappointed, and we’ve ever scared them a few times. So, we just have to do a great job of defending our house.”
The Dolphins attribute their road victories to approaching each game as a business trip.
There’s a singular focus on a talented team.
“I think that our leaders are outstanding,” Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. “We have a lot of football guys on the team that enjoy talking it, watching it, any of those things. When you get them all together and you get them on the plane or you get them to the airport.”
The Dolphins are coming off a 15-10 victory at the Bengals, scoring all of their points on five field goals from kicker Dan Carpenter.
The Dolphins biggest shortcoming is their red-zone offense, kicking 18 field goals and only scoring 10 touchdowns.
Miami is led by quarterback Chad Henne, wide receiver Brandon Marshall, running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, offensive tackle Jake Long and outside linebacker Cameron Wake.
“We respect them,” Harbaugh said. “They’re a tough, hard-nosed team. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. They have a young quarterback, a strong defense, they can run the ball. They are physical.”
The Dolphins tend to allow more big plays at home, where they turn the ball over more and run the football less often and less effectively.
Nonetheless, the Dolphins are the top traveling team in the NFL.
They’re ahead of the Jets and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who both own 3-0 road records.
The Dolphins are the fifth team in NFL history to be undefeated as a road team and winless at home through seven games, according to the NFL record and fact book.
The Ravens say they aren’t sure why the Dolphins are such a good road team.
They’re determined to halt their four-game winning streak on the road .
“It’s not something you can see on tape,” middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. “Maybe it’s a mentality from inside. Maybe they’re more comfortable when they leave their home.