By Daniel Benjamin
The Baltimore Ravens saw their two-game winning streak come to end with a 27-17 setback to the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Sunday afternoon. With the loss, the Ravens (5-5) drop back into a tie for first place in the AFC North division with the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5).
The Ravens started the game on a positive note, scoring on the team’s second offensive possession to take a 7-0 lead. Defensively, the Ravens became the first team to force the Cowboys to punt on their first four offensive possessions this year, as they limited them to 63 yards of offense. Unfortunately, that pretty much sums up the good news for the Ravens on the day defensively.
Ravens on offense: C-
The Ravens moved the ball down the field in the first half well, and totaled 368 yards for the for the game — 35 yards more than their season average.
Baltimore’s second drive was a thing of beauty as the Ravens went 90 yards on six plays. The Ravens had four plays of 15 yards or longer, including a 27-yard pass to Mike Wallace and a 20-yard run by rookie Kenneth Dixon. Running back Terrence West capped the drive off with a 18-yard touchdown sprint.
Quarterback Joe Flacco completed more than 65 percent of his passes though most of his damage came on short throws. West had a nice first half totaling 42 yards on seven carries. Steve Smith Sr. had a big day finishing with eight catches for 99 yards and one touchdown. Smith became the 14th player in NFL history to reach 1,000 receptions when he hauled in a 22-yard pass on the first play of the second half.
Ravens on defense: D
The Ravens permitted the Cowboys to score on six straight possessions and accumulate 417 yards offense — the second most of the season. After the first four possessions, the Ravens pass rush disappeared allowing Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott to pick the secondary apart. It did not help that cornerback Jimmy Smith was unable to go due to a back injury.
Prescott completed 75 percent (27-of-36) of his passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns. He was 14-of-15 for 148 yards in the second half. The Ravens also allowed the Cowboys to run for 118 yards as rookie running back Ezekiel Elliot fell three yards (25 carries for 97 yards) short of becoming the third back to reach the century mark this year. Baltimore entered the game as the No. 1 defense against the run, surrendering 71.3 yards a game.
All three of the Cowboys scores came on long drives that spanned at least eight plays and 72 yards.
Special Teams: B-
Kicker Justin Tucker was terrific as usual. Punter Sam Koch wasn’t able to pin the Cowboys inside the 5 on his first kick as the 49 yard punt rolled into the end zone. The Ravens kick coverage also wasn’t as stout as normal, as punt returner Lucky Whitehead peeled off a 21-yard return. In addition, the Ravens had a few special teams penalties.
The Ravens had a nice game plan going into the game on both sides of the ball, but the coaching staff wasn’t able to make the necessary adjustments when the team got bogged down.
Offensively, the Ravens tried to open up the offense and they did have several big plays. However, Flacco finished 0-for-5 on throws of 20 yards or longer on the day. Entering the game, Flacco had completed 23.8 percent of his throws of 20 yards or more downfield.
The biggest mystery is why the Ravens went away from the run. The Ravens ran the ball three times in the second half after totaling 86 yards on 13 attempts in the first half.
The Ravens head back home to M&T Bank Stadium to face AFC North division foe Cincinnati Bengals (3-6-1) next Sunday. The Ravens are on a two-game winning streak at home and are 3-2 there overall, outscoring their opponents by 27 points (99-72). The Ravens are a perfect 3-0 against AFC North teams this season.