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Will Offense's Strong Finish Last Week Carry Over To Dallas?


The Ravens offense seemed to find itself in the second half of last week's game against the Cleveland Browns. Baltimore put up 21 points as quarterback Joe Flacco threw three touchdowns in the team's most lopsided victory since the 2014 season.

The breakout was a great sign for an offense that has struggled for much of the season, and the question now is whether that performance will carry into Sunday's matchup with the Dallas Cowboys.

"You have to translate it," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "You have to find a way to make that stuff continue to work, and continue to get better at the stuff that made us go off there a little bit in the second half. We can't expect it to just happen."

Head Coach John Harbaugh and key offensive players all said the success against Cleveland has potential to be a springboard for the offense. But they have also been quick to point out that success one week certainly doesn't guarantee anything in a game 10 days later.

"It's a different game. It's a different front. It's a different bunch of players. It's a different game plan," Harbaugh said. "We just have to carry over execution, to me. The thing that can carry over momentum wise is doing things the right way, well. Good footwork, good leverage, good hand placement, good finish."

A significant difference is obviously the opponent. The Browns had the NFL's second-worst ranked defense going into that game last week, and now the Ravens have to face a Cowboys team that has the league's best record (8-1) and the 12th-ranked defense.

The Ravens are well aware that they may not get some of the opportunities they had against the Browns. Flacco started to drive home that point soon after the victory over Cleveland, and he has continued to stress it this week.

"You can't expect because you played a good half of football to come out and do the same thing the next game," he said.

The success against Cleveland came in the second half when the Ravens sped up the offensive tempo and then tried to work the underneath routes on crossing patterns and slant routes. Wide receivers Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman both picked up big chunks on short slant routes where they had room to run after the catch.

The other major difference was the Ravens put up touchdowns when they got into the red zone. They had settled for field goals far too often this season, but Flacco hit Perriman, Steve Smith Sr. and Darren Waller for touchdowns last week.

"Things get tighter down there [in the red zone]. You have to make quick decisions and be precise, and that's what we haven't been great at doing this year," Flacco said. "We just have to make sure we take what we did last game and translate it to this one the best we can."

Baltimore may also go back to the no-huddle approach that worked well against Cleveland. They marched right down the field when they opened the second-half in the no-huddle, and they will keep that as an option in future games.

"I like that; I have always been a fan of it," Harbaugh said. "I think Joe likes it. It is certainly something that we are going to do from time to time and maybe more often than we have in the past."

Problems for the offense have not been limited to one specific area. The offensive line has gone through a rotation of players because of injuries to Ronnie Stanley, Alex Lewis, Marshal Yanda and Rick Wagner. That's led to more pressure in Flacco's face and fewer holes in the running game. The shuffling up front will continue this week as Lewis will miss the game with an ankle injury, but the Ravens hope to get Yanda, a five-time Pro Bowler, back in the lineup despite the shoulder issue.

Even without the issues on the line, Flacco and the running backs have struggled at times to create plays on their own. Flacco and the receivers haven't been in rhythm for much of the year, and he boiled it down to simply missing too many easy opportunities. 

They overcame some of those problems in last week's win, and the Ravens know they need to keep that momentum if they want to upset the Cowboys this weekend.

"I got to be on a better page with my receivers and all of that stuff. It's little easy missed throws or things like that. That's what's disappointing. It's nothing that's really hard when you go back and watch it," Flacco said. "At the end of the day, it's just being better on my part on the easy things and letting some of those other things take care of themselves."

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