By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens would host the Dallas Cowboys in a matchup against 2 high profile teams. The game would feature the perennial playoff contending Baltimore Ravens against America’s Team. In the end, Baltimore would once again escape with a 31-29 win. Injuries to Webb, Lewis, J. Smith, and Ngata stained an otherwise impressive win at home against a Cowboys team filled with talent on both sides of the ball.
Cam Cameron came up with a decent gameplan for this game. As opposed to last season, he has done a good job of mixing in run and pass plays. Teams have begun to focus their gameplan on keeping the Ravens offense off the field. As a result, Cameron isn’t getting many chances to build drives for better field position and potential points. For example, the Ravens held the ball for less than 20 minutes in this game. That means Dallas’ offense played for nearly two-thirds of the game. It’s almost unheard of for a team to lose the T.O.P. battle by that large a margin and come away with the victory. Not only is Baltimore winning these games, but they are scoring points in bunches in the process.
Dean Pees has yet to figure out how to stop the run this season. The defense gave up the most yards on the ground in franchise history to a team that doesn’t run the ball very well. The injuries to Ray Lewis and Haloti Ngata didn’t help, but this team was getting gashed way before that happened. The pass defense continues to improve from earlier in the season, but too often wide open tight ends are running across the field. The defense has to improve in order to compete against elite offenses. With Houston next up on the schedule, the defense could be in trouble once again.
Joe Flacco continues to show why he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. As mentioned earlier, Flacco hasn’t been given many chances to get the ball in the endzone. But when he’s given the opportunity, he is making the most of it. Flacco would finish the day with 236 yards and 1 touchdown. The Ravens accomplished this week what they weren’t able to do the previous week. They did a good job of extending drives. Due to the fact that time of possession heavily favored Dallas, the Ravens offense had to extend drives in order to give their defense some much needed rest. Flacco had much to do with that. And so did Ray Rice.
Ray Rice only averaged 3.9 yards a carry, but when the Ravens needed him most, he came through big. Rice would finish the day with 2 touchdown carries in the redzone that helped Baltimore seal the win. The former Rutgers running back is struggling with getting yards on the ground with an offensive line that continues to shift players around. But he still finished with over 100 yards from the line of scrimmage which includes a 43 yard reception that set up his rushing touchdown in the 2nd quarter. With injuries mounting for the defense, it’ll be important for Rice to keep producing for his team.
The Ravens’ defense continues to struggle stopping the run. The Ravens gave up the most rushing yards in franchise history against the Cowboys. Dallas would run for over 227 yards against a defense that is known for stopping the run. The team has been without Suggs for most of the season, but that is no excuse for the way this team has performed so far. Haloti Ngata went down with a knee injury during the game. Ngata would return less than 100% and the Cowboys took notice. They continued to run the ball for the remainder of the game. And why wouldn’t they? Nobody could stop them.
The pass defense played well against a receiving corps with a robust amount of talent. The big news of the day is the apparent loss of Lardarius Webb for the season. But even in his absence, Baltimore played better than anticipated. They’ll have another tough task ahead of them next week against the Texans, but the secondary should be happy with how they performed on Sunday.
The Ravens have been close to breaking one for a touchdown all season. On Sunday, Jacoby Jones would finally get the job done, and he would do it in record breaking fashion. Jones would return a 108 yard kick return for a touchdown that would give the Ravens their first double digit lead of the game. It is tied for the longest return in NFL history. Justin Tucker continues to impress as he made his only field goal attempt and all of the XP conversions. Sam Koch had one poor punt, but played well for the most part. Koch remains one of the most underrated punters in the NFL.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.