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Monday, October 15, 2012
Upon Further Review: Ravens

By Jamison Hensley

Revisiting the Baltimore Ravens' 31-29 win over the Dallas Cowboys:

No matter how many times they changed defensive coordinators or turned over personnel, the one constant with the Ravens defense was you could never run against it.

That's why it has been startling to watch the Ravens run defense get manhandled the past two weeks. After allowing over 200 yards rushing in consecutive games for the first time in franchise history, Baltimore now ranks 26th in stopping the run. The Ravens run defense has ranked in the top 10 for 12 of the past 13 seasons, including the past six seasons in the top 5. But Baltimore's defense reached a low point in giving up 227 yards on the ground, which is also a franchise record.

To put the Ravens' struggles in perspective, Dallas had been one of the worst rushing teams this season. The Cowboys had gained a total of 128 yards rushing in their previous three games. They had 121 yards rushing by halftime against the Ravens.

"I think it’s just disgusting, and we need to fix it right away because we’ve got a good Houston team that we’re going to play against next week,” Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata told the Baltimore Sun. “So we’ve just got to find out what we need to do and fix those things and hopefully we can get better as these weeks go along.”

The Ravens used to put together streaks of not allowing 100-yard rushers. On Sunday, two backs (DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones) nearly reached that mark in the same game. Murray finished with 93 yards and Jones had 92 yards.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Cowboys ran for 183 yards between the tackles, averaging 3.5 yards before contact. Over the past two games, the Ravens defense has allowed a league-high 352 rushing yards between the tackles.

"Historically, we’re a very good tackling team. And we were not a very good tackling team [Sunday]," coach John Harbaugh said. "Our players will tell you. That’s nothing that our players won’t tell you. They’re going to tell you we’ve got to tackle better, and they’re going to tell you we’ve got to play our run defense better at the point of attack. Those are things we’re going to have to get better at, especially this week. Look what we’re going to play [at Houston].”

The Texans currently have the NFL's sixth-best rushing attack.

STAT THAT STICKS: 76.4 -- Joe Flacco's completion rate when the Cowboys didn't blitz. He averaged 9.8 yards per attempt and threw his only touchdown of the game when the Cowboys rushed four or fewer players.

OVERHEARD: “That thing spread like the Red Sea. I was gassed. I think I kind of threw up a little bit on the sidelines, but I was ready to go again.” Kickoff returner Jacoby Jones on his 108-yard runback, which tied an NFL record.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Ravens play at the Texans (5-1), who are coming off a 42-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers. It's a showdown between the top two teams in the AFC.