At First Glance: Cowboys vs. Ravens


John Eisenberg:  The Ravens are living right. They were outplayed by the Cowboys, who controlled the ball and dominated the Ravens defense, setting an all-time record for rushing yards against the Ravens. The Cowboys also didn't turn it over much, as they usually do, and had several shots at the end to either tie or win the game. But they couldn't convert any of them and the Ravens survived. The Ravens offense had a solid game, as Joe Flacco was on his game and found an array of targets, while Michael Oher did a nice job of neutralizing DeMarcus Ware. The struggling defense continued its practice of barely hanging on. It spoke volumes that the Cowboys were able to drive the length of the field for a touchdown at the end of the game before Dez Bryant dropped an on-target throw on the two-point conversion. A missed 51-yard field goal by the Cowboys saved the day for the Ravens. They were fortunate to be in that position and walk away as winners.

Ryan Mink:  The Ravens are redefining what it means to win close. Three straight games went right down to the wire: against Cleveland, in Kansas City and versus Dallas. Just when Baltimore thought it had a 31-29 victory on an unsuccessful two-point conversion, it didn't recover the onside kick. It took a missed 51-yard field goal at regulation to decide this one. Only then could the Ravens finally exhale. Ray Rice and the offense rallied for key touchdowns at big moments, but Baltimore has some major issues it needs to clean up. Two to focus on are the tackling of the run defense, which surrendered a franchise-record 227 rushing yards. But once again, it feels a whole lot better to correct those errors coming off a win. Baltimore is 5-1 and in commanding position of the AFC North. I can get used to that … and maybe we'll have to get accustomed to these sweat fests too.

Garrett Downing:This was far too close for comfort, but the Ravens came away with another key victory, withstanding a late charge to take down the Cowboys 31-29. The win came down to a missed field-goal attempt by Dallas kicker Dan Bailey, who sailed a 51-yard, game-winning field goal wide left. The win improves the Ravens to 5-1 on the season, and gives them some breathing room atop the AFC North, as the Steelers and Bengals both lost this week. Just like previous games, this one wasn't always pretty. The defense gave up way too many yards and couldn't get off the field on the Cowboys' final drive of the fourth quarter. The offense didn't get a second-half first down until midway through the fourth quarter. But the story all season has been that the Ravens did exactly what they needed to do to get the win, and that was once again the case on Sunday. The offense came up with long touchdown drives at the end of the first half and midway through the fourth quarter, and kick returner Jacoby Jones had a 108-yard kick return for touchdown. Running back Ray Rice also had another big game, scoring two touchdowns and collecting over 100 yards from scrimmage. Much of the focus after this game will rightfully be placed on the play of the defense, which needs to improve for next week's matchup against Houston. But the key now for the Ravens is that they are sitting at 5-1, with a two-game lead in the AFC North.

Sarah Ellison:  Holy moly, that was close … and the Ravens will take it. The  defensive performance was alarming – and things don't look to be on the upswing as the unit didn't have two of its best players, Lardarius Webb (knee) and Ray Lewis (unknown), on the field during the final plays of the game. For the first time in team history, Baltimore gave up 200 yards in back-to-back games, and tackling was poor. That said, just like last week, the defense came up with a huge play to prevent the Cowboys from scoring a two-point conversion and push the game to overtime. And after an successful Dallas onside kick, the defense kept the Cowboys to a 51-yard attempt, which was missed and sealed the Ravens' win. Baltimore's offense had a solid day as Ray Rice was a stud with more than 100 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. And Jacoby Jones' NFL record-tying, 108-yard kickoff return was not only entertaining, but it may have been the difference in the Ravens' two-point win. Kudos to tackle Michael Oher for keeping one of the league's top pass rushers in DeMarcus Ware quiet for most of the afternoon. At 5-1, the Ravens keep winning, even if they aren't inspiring much confidence.

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