BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens have no intention of apologizing for giving up 489 yards to the Dallas Cowboys and blowing most of an 11-point lead in the second half before squeezing out a 31-29 victory at home.
For Baltimore, there’s no indignity in winning a tight game.
“We’re 5-1 and I know some of the games have been close,” Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. “But that’s the way it is in this league, and we’re happy to get them.”
Whether it be 9-6 over Kansas City or a harrowing two-point decision against Dallas, Baltimore will take it. The Ravens’ last four wins have come by a total of 13 points, including this one, in which Dallas held the ball twice as long as Baltimore and totaled an amazing 30 first downs.
“I don’t know if we necessarily deserve to win this game,” Flacco said. “But we’ll take it, get out of here really quick, go home and fall asleep and wake up the next morning with a win.”
Baltimore yielded a franchise-record 227 yards rushing. But the Ravens also got a 108-yard kickoff return from Jacoby Jones and managed to twice stave off the Cowboys in the final minute to preserve their 14th consecutive home win.
“To be 5-1 after playing all these tough teams, we’re grateful,” safety Ed Reed said.
Jones’ kickoff return tied an NFL record and put the Ravens ahead 24-13 in the third quarter. Dallas (2-3) never got even against a defense that lost cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (right knee) and Jimmy Smith (lower leg strain), along with middle linebacker Ray Lewis (triceps).
Webb could have an ACL tear, coach John Harbaugh said.
“They threw a lot of haymakers at us,” Harbaugh said. “Our guys stepped up at the end and found a way to win the game.”
After Dez Bryant scored on a 4-yard pass from Tony Romo with 32 seconds left to make it 31-29, the 2-point conversion pass zipped through the arms of the diving Bryant in the front left corner of the end zone.
Dallas recovered the onside kick, but Dan Bailey was wide left on a 51-yard field goal try with :06 remaining.
“I am sick about losing this game,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “This is a very tough place to play. We made our share of mistakes, but I thought we had a shot to win at the end.”
The defeat came two weeks after Dallas lost 34-18 to Chicago at home. Following a bye, the Cowboys put up some impressive numbers. All those figures, however, didn’t add up to a victory of any kind.
“Ultimately, hey look, there’s no moral victories,” tight end Jason Witten said. “Obviously they’re a good team and you don’t walk away saying, `Hey, we `played a good team close.’ You walk away saying, `We had an opportunity and we lost.”‘
Ray Rice scored two touchdowns and Flacco threw for a score to help the Ravens secure their fourth consecutive victory and enhance their grip on first place in the AFC North. Baltimore’s home winning streak is the longest current run in the NFL.
Jones’ return tied the mark set by Ellis Hobbs of New England in 2007 and tied in 2011 by Randall Cobb of Green Bay.
“To set the National Football League record for a kickoff return, in what was the difference in the game, is pretty special,” Harbaugh said.
The score was essential to the Ravens, who mustered only 1 yard on three offensive plays in the third quarter.
After Jones’ touchdown, the Cowboys launched an 80-yard march that ate up more than eight minutes. Romo connected with Bryant for 13 yards on a third-and-11 before throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to Bryant to make it 24-20.
Dallas followed with two strong defensive series, and a short punt by Baltimore preceded a 21-yard drive to a field goal by Bailey.
Flacco then directed a 10-play, 73-yard march. A 31-yard completion to Anquan Boldin moved the ball to the Dallas 4, and Rice scored from the 1 to provide the Ravens an eight-point cushion.
The Cowboys rallied, but could not complete the comeback.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to finish the game and we have to win the game,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We didn’t do that.”
Bryant said, “We should have had this, but I know it’s something we can build off of.”
Romo went 25 for 36 for 261 yards and two touchdowns, a redemptive performance after he threw five interceptions against Chicago. DeMarco Murray ran for 93 yards, Felix Jones had 92 on the ground and Bryant caught 13 passes for 95 yards and two TDs.
Murray left in the second half with a foot injury; his absence did little to deter the Cowboys’ running game.
“We ran it inside, we ran it outside, we got some stuff off the run game,” Garrett said. “We kept the ball for a long time and those were all good things.”
Baltimore trailed 10-3 before scoring touchdowns on a pair of 80-yard drives to take a 17-10 halftime lead.
Facing the top-ranked pass defense in the NFL, Flacco went 13 for 18 for 174 yards in the first half.
NOTES: Ravens C Matt Birk played in his 200th NFL game. … Bobbie Williams started at guard for the Ravens in place of Ramon Harewood, who was inactive after five straight starts. … Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter accompanied the Ravens captains to the coin toss and received a standing ovation. … Cowboys DL Sean Lissemore left in the first quarter with an ankle injury.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)