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Saturday, December 20, 2008
Rapid Reaction: Ravens 33, Cowboys 24

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys waited until it was too late to finally play with a sense of urgency and they left their longtime residence on a sour note. After spotting the Cowboys an early touchdown following a Joe Flacco fumble, the Ravens settled down and took over Saturday night's game in a 33-24 win.

And at 10-5, they're still in the thick of things in the AFC wild-card playoff race. The Cowboys will need to beat the Eagles and hope the Falcons and Bucs lose tomorrow. Before the game, it seemed like the Cowboys would have all the intangibles -- especially with all the closing ceremonies at Texas Stadium.

But it was the Ravens who played like a desperate team. Flacco was sacked five times, but other than the early fumble, he did a great job of protecting the ball. He also made big plays when he had to. It was a heroic effort for veteran Ravens receiver Derrick Mason. On his touchdown late in the third quarter he had to run down the field with one arm to his side because of an injury. He lulled cornerback Anthony Henry to sleep and then snuck to the corner of the end zone, where Flacco found him for the score.

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had one of his worst nights as a pro. He threw two costly interceptions to Ed Reed -- the second setting the Ravens up for the go-ahead field goal at halftime.

And it was a kid who grew up about 20 minutes from Texas Stadium in Lake Highlands, Matt Stover, who kept delivering field goals. The only thing that worked for the Cowboys was feeding the ball to Tashard Choice on the ground, but offensive coordinator Jason Garrett inexplicably went away from him during key stretches.

Romo had T.O. open on a deep ball late in the first half, but the receiver never found the ball and it fell harmlessly to the ground. On another play in the second half, Romo had Miles Austin running wide-open after a Ravens safety stumbled. Romo threw the ball on a line -- perhaps because he was worried about Reed -- and the Cowboys missed another great opportunity.

The Ravens were clinging to a 19-17 lead with just over three minutes to go, but running back Willis McGahee took a handoff up the middle and raced 77 yards for a touchdown. Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears and safety Ken Hamlin dived at McGahee's ankles, but no one else had a shot.

After the Cowboys scored with 1:33 left, the Ravens struck again with an 82-yard touchdown. The 50-minute postgame ceremony to close down Texas Stadium will seem more like a funeral tonight.