Rapid Reaction: Ravens 31, Cowboys 29
October, 14, 2012
By Jamison Hensley | ESPN.com
BALTIMORE -- Thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 31-29 win over the Dallas Cowboys:
What it means: In yet another close win, the Ravens improved to 5-1 and took a two-game lead over the Bengals (3-3), who lost to the previously winless Browns. This extended the Ravens' home win streak to 15 games (including playoffs), the longest current one in the NFL. Baltimore has been winning by the closest of margins. The Ravens have won their past four games by a total of 13 points.
Getting some help: The Ravens got some help from the Cowboys in escaping with this win. After catching a touchdown pass, Dez Bryant let the pass on the two-point conversion go through his hands. That would have tied the game at 31 with 29 seconds remaining. After the Cowboys recovered the onside kick, Dallas' Dan Bailey missed the potential winning 51-yard field goal wide left.
Where's Ray Lewis? When the Cowboys were driving in the red zone to tie the game in the final minutes of the game, Lewis was standing on the sideline and not holding a helmet. After Dallas recovered the onside kick, Lewis still wasn't on the field.
Rice makes major impact: Ray Rice totaled 106 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns. This was the 35th career game in which Rice went over 100 total yards, the most in the NFL since the start of the 2009 season. Rice's 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter capped a 10-play, 73-yard drive that put the Ravens up by eight points.
In the history books: Jacoby Jones gave the Ravens a much-needed 11-point cushion in the third quarter (24-13) when he returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown, which tied the longest in NFL history (New England's Ellis Hobbs and Green Bay's Randall Cobb both did this previously). Jones was running back kickoffs because Baltimore's primary returner, undrafted rookie Deonte Thompson, fumbled last Sunday in Kansas City.
Run-down run defense: Baltimore gave up 227 yards on the ground, the most ever given up by the Ravens in a game. The Ravens haven't stopped the run the past two weeks and it goes beyond Lewis. This team had trouble tackling even the fourth-string Cowboys running back. This marks the first time in Ravens history that Baltimore has allowed 200 yards rushing in back-to-back games.
Good streak for defense: Ravens cornerback Cary Williams made an interception in his third straight game after not having one in his first four years in the NFL. With the game tied at 10 in the second quarter, the Ravens converted that turnover into a 19-yard touchdown from Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith. Baltimore never relinquished the lead.
Painful loss: Lardarius Webb, the Ravens' top cornerback, left the game late in the first quarter when he knocked knees with Bryant. He couldn't put weight on the sprained knee and needed to be helped off the field. Webb didn't return. Other than the injury to Terrell Suggs, the Ravens have been very healthy this season.
What's next: The Ravens play at the Houston Texans (5-0 before their Sunday night game) in a meeting that could have tiebreaker implications later this season.