Game Recap: Ravens vs. Cowboys


As Joe Flacco said, the final minutes of Sunday's game were tough to watch.

The Ravens relied on backups as defensive starter after starter went down with injuries. The Cowboys offense ran all over Baltimore. Even when it looked like the Ravens won after a failed two-point conversion with seconds left to play, they hadn't.

But Baltimore held on for a thrilling 31-29 victory over the visiting Dallas Cowboys after kicker Dan Bailey's 51-yard game-winning field goal attempt sailed wide left.

It was a third straight thriller for the Ravens. And it was yet another win. It went down to the final play against the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore eked out a 9-6 victory in Kansas City last week.

The Ravens (5-1) now have a two-game lead on their AFC North foes. But it hasn't come easy.

"I don't know if we necessarily deserve to win this game, but we'll take it," Flacco said. "We'll get the hell out of here really quick and go home and fall asleep and wake up the next morning with a win."

The Ravens defense surrendered 227 rushing yards, the most in franchise history in a single game. It's the second straight game in which Baltimore has given up more than 200 yards on the ground, and its pride has been hurt.

Cornerback Lardarius Webb suffered what could be an ACL injury in the first quarter, knocking him out of the game and potentially a lot longer. Defensive leader Ray Lewis wasn't on the field for the Cowboys' crucial fourth-quarter drive because of a triceps injury.

Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata (knee), cornerback Jimmy Smith (strain) and defensive tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu (unknown) all came off the field for some period of time due to injuries. With all the substitutes, the Ravens were in defensive packages that they hadn't practiced.

But they still won.

"Our guys stepped up in the face of some real adversity," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "We were in a physical fist fight from beginning to end. They threw a lot of haymakers at us, and our guys stepped up at the end and found a way to win.

"Was it perfect? Was it pretty? No. And I'm sure that's all stuff that will get written about, and it's all fine. But a victory is still a victory."

The Ravens led by eight points with four minutes, 41 seconds left in the game. That's when it got really wacky.

The Cowboys converted on fourth-and-10 twice, and even moved the sticks after facing a third-and-27. They drove 80 yards and scored on a 4-yard touchdown to wide receiver Dez Bryant.

A two-point conversion attempt to Bryant skipped off his hands with 32 seconds left, keeping the Ravens ahead by two points. It looked as if the Ravens had won.

But, as is becoming a trend for the Ravens, it wasn't that easy.

Dallas recovered the onside kick when it slipped between linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo's legs. With the ball on Dallas' 46-yard line, the active cornerback furthest down on the depth chart, Chykie Brown, was flagged for a 20-yard pass interference penalty.

That put Dallas in field-goal range. But Bailey, who made three earlier field goals on the day from 42, 43 and 34 yards, hooked it wide left. It was his first field-goal miss of the season and just the sixth of his two-year career.

"Thank you, Jesus," running back Ray Rice said. "We've been on the other end of that, obviously, so we know what that feels like."

After the game, Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said he was "sick" about losing the game. Baltimore's gashed defense didn't feel too happy either despite getting the win.

Dallas entered the game rushing for 68 yards per game. The Cowboys had 94 by the end of the first quarter and took a 10-3 lead early in the second quarter.

Starter DeMarco Murray (foot injury) left in the first half and still finished with 14 carries for 93 yards. Backup Felix Jones had 18 rushes for 92 yards and a score. Baltimore was plagued by missed tackles throughout the game.

"We are a tough football team. Nobody can question that," safety Bernard Pollard said. "Stats do not win football games. … [But] for me, I'm pissed off. I take this personally. Our name is on this. We have to do better than that and we are better than that."

The Ravens offense put up timely touchdowns and was mostly paced by Rice, who finished with 106 total yards. Baltimore scored two quick touchdowns before the end of the first half to take a 17-10 lead into the locker room.

The first touchdown was on a 1-yard run by Rice after he hauled in a 43-yard catch. The second was on a 19-yard pass to Torrey Smith, which was set up by a third interception in three games by cornerback Cary Williams.

Dallas got a 43-yard field goal on its first drive of the second half, but Baltimore answered back in a hurry.

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones took a kickoff out of the end zone eight yards deep and raced untouched by Dallas' defenders. His 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown tied the NFL record for the longest kickoff return for a touchdown (set twice before and last in 2011) and broke the Ravens' all-time record, previously set at 103 yards by David Reed in 2010.

"That thing spread like the red sea," Jones said of the coverage before being asked why he took it out from 8-yards deep. "You just get that itch, and I wanted to scratch it."

Dallas came back with a field goal and touchdown to Bryant, who finished with 13 catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns, to cut the Ravens' lead to 24-23.

Flacco and wide receiver Anquan Boldin (five catches for 98 yards) carried the Ravens' decisive fourth-quarter drive. Boldin caught a 13-yard slant over the middle, then a 31-yarder down the right sideline. Rice weaved into the end zone from one yard out to give Baltimore a 31-23 lead.

Flacco was asked how close the Ravens are to playing their best football.

"I think we're close," he said. "But it's tough to quantify that and really say how close you are. We're playing good football right now. We're 5-1, and I know some games have been close, but that's the way it is in this league, and we're happy to get them."

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