The Ravens made the trip down to Arlington, Texas, and entered AT&T Stadium to take on the NFC East leading Dallas Cowboys in what was the team’s biggest challenge to date, and it was an ugly one.
Start of Game
Justin Tucker sailed the opening kickoff through the back of the endzone and the Dallas offense took the field.
The Cowboys took their strength, running the ball, at the Ravens strength, run defense, and it was the Ravens who won out, stopping Ezekiel Elliott on first and second down. On third down, Albert McClellan got to Dak Prescott, and with help from Zach Orr, sacked the rookie quarterback.
Upon getting the ball, the Ravens offense hit the ground running, picking up first downs on each its first two plays. The unit however made a quick 180 and began to sputter, punting after its next three plays.
The defense forced a quick Dallas punt, keeping Dak Prescott largely out of sync.
The offense got the ball on the Dallas 10, and proceeded to pound it right down the Cowboys throat. A Mike Wallace 27-yard catch and run proceeded 20 yard tackle breaking run from Kenneth Dixon. A 16 yard run by Terrance West followed by an 18 yard West rush punched the ball into the endzone, giving the Ravens a 7-0 lead.
The Ravens defense did not allow Dallas to answer. Ezekiel Elliott found slight running room, and moved the ball onto the Ravens half of the 50-yard line. But from there, the defense held firm, quickly getting the Cowboys offense off the field. The Cowboys continue to pound Elliott, but the rookie has not produced many yards. The Ravens pressure continues to keep Prescott on a different page than his receivers, as shown by Prescott’s 50% completion percentage to this point. The Ravens defense also has held Dallas to one for four on third downs, largely due to strong blitzes off the edges forcing quick decisions for Prescott, who has faltered in those moments.
Start of Second Quarter
Pinned deep in their own end, the offense was stuck in a third and 12. Flacco looked to sideline for the every reliable Steve Smith Sr. Smith hauled in the catch, upheld by a Cowboys challenge, barely getting two feet down in bounds, keeping the drive alive. Smith needs one more for 1000 career catches. It didn’t last as the Ravens punted quickly afterward, following a questionable non-called pass interference against Cowboys DB Byron Jones.
Dallas received the Ravens punt with good field position, but proceeded to move themselves backward into a first-and-30. The defense failed to finish the job, allowing Dallas to convert on a misplayed deep ball by Shareece Wright. Dallas capitalized on Wright’s mistake, and Dak Prescott threw a touchdown pass to Cole Beasley, tying the game.
The Ravens took the ensuing kickoff, and drove to the Dallas half the field. A third down holding call on Jeremy Zuttah moved the Ravens to a third-and-14. The Ravens were not able to convert, and Justin Tucker came on to attempt a 46 yard field goal. Tucker remained 100% on field goals this season, knocking the ball through the uprights, giving the Ravens the lead back.
The defense was not able to hold the lead long. Dak Prescott quickly drove the Cowboys down the field, moving the ball seemingly at will. Dan Bailey drilled the game tying field goal with :05 seconds left.
End of First Half
First Half Notes
- The battle between the Cowboys top rushing offense and the Ravens top rushing defense has gone the way of the Ravens, holding Ezekiel Elliott to just 26 yards.
- When the Cowboys started moving away from Elliott and focusing more on the pass, the Cowboys moved the ball considerably better, with Prescott picking apart the Ravens depleted offense.
- The Ravens offense started the game strong, building off of momentum from last week against Cleveland. The running game has been strong, and the only thing keeping the Ravens from multiple explosive plays is catches being ruled out of bounds.
First Half Winners
Ravens rush offense - The Ravens have amassed 86 rushing yards in the first half. The load has been very balanced between Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon, with West having just two more carries. The duo of West and Dixon is beginning to look like the early 2000’s USC teams with their combination of Reggie Bush and Lendale White out of the backfield.
Ravens rush defense - The Cowboys are holding the NFL’s top rusher to just 26 rushing yards in the first half, and the Cowboys as a team only have 45 total rush yards. The Ravens defensive front is beating the Cowboys heralded offensive line.
First Half Losers
Shareece Wright - Wright has been consistently burned by multiple Cowboys receivers in the first half. He has been put in single coverage with Dez Bryant, and has given up multiple big chunks to Bryant. He also allowed Dallas to move down the field at the end of the first half, giving huge cushions for Prescott to pass into the flats, and run for a few yards on the end of the catch.
Discipline - The Ravens have been killed by penalties in the first half, having been called for eight penalties at the half, many of them have been costly.
Start of Second Half
The Ravens received the second half kickoff, and immediately made history. Joe Flacco passed to Steve Smith Sr over the middle for a 22 yard gain, but more importantly, Smith’s 1000th career catch. The history making catch was followed by three straight plays for no gain, including two incomplete passes to Mike Wallace. Sam Koch’s ensuing punt pinned the Cowboys inside their own 10 yard line.
The Cowboys would go on a 10 play 92 yard drive for a touchdown to Dez Bryant. Ezekiel Elliott doubled his rushing total from the first half on this drive alone. A 33-yard pass interference call on Tavon Young moved the Cowboys to the Ravens 17 yard line. Four plays later, Dallas had the lead.
The Ravens offense continues to sputter in the second half. The unit has seemingly regressed back to its lowly first half showing against the Browns in Week 10.
The Cowboys would get the ball back after the Ravens short drive, and continued to move the ball at will against the Ravens. The Cowboys offensive line may be warring down at the Ravens front, as Elliott is gaining more and more yards per touch, now up over 100 total yards in the game. Dallas tight ends have been completely ignored, open over the middle of seemingly every play. Once inside the red zone, Tavon Young gave Dez Bryant a 10 yard cushion, Bryant took advantage, muscling his way into the end zone, extending Dallas’s lead. The defense looks totally worn out.
The offense, pulled it together, and found a way to answer right back. The Ravens took the ensuing kick off and drove 75 yards on eight plays. Steve Smith’s three catches for 44 yards on the drive was the key for the offense. The Ravens drive was saved with a third down face mask penalty on Dallas. Joe Flacco made sure to capitalize with a perfectly thrown ball to Steve Smith for a touchdown.
Prescott continues to pick the Raven apart, completing 19 of his last 20 passes. Jerraud Powers allowed Cole Beasley to pick up two huge first downs, resulting in large amounts of clock to be eaten by the Cowboys offense. This would prove to be huge, as the Ravens would be forced to burn their timeouts, and Dan Bailey drained a field goal to give Dallas a two possession lead with less than two minutes remaining.
The Ravens proceeded to have the worst drive they have had all season. Despite being down 10 and having no time outs, Joe Flacco, for reasons I cannot understand, continually passed the ball over the middle. The Ravens barely were able to cross over midfield, and a meaningless hail mary attempt fell incomplete. The Ravens will fall to 5-5, and return home to take on the Bengals next week.
Second Half Notes
- The offense reverted back to its old ways in the second half. The Ravens were barely able to move the ball with the exception of its one touchdown drive. The offense is completely flat, with the only playmaking ability in the running game, which the coaching staff continues to refrain from using.
- Everything the defense did well in the first half, they did badly in the second half. Prescott completed seemingly every pass he threw, and all of them to wide open wide receivers.
- The defense bottled up Ezekiel Elliott in the first half, but allowed him to end up having almost 100 rushing yards in the game. The Dallas offensive line wore down the Ravens front, and as a result, won time of possession by over 10 minutes.
Second Half Winners
Steve Smith Sr. - Smith set a milestone with his 1000 career catch, and had a fantastic game: eight catches for 99 yards and a touchdown reception
Second Half Losers
Discipline - The Ravens finished with 12 penalties for 126 yards. That is not a winning formula.
Joe Flacco - On the Ravens last possession Flacco threw over the middle on nearly every play, and didn’t give his receivers a chance to get out of bounds with no time outs. That was not elite.
Play calling - It wasn’t just Flacco’s fault, as the play calling on that last drive didn’t include any deep passes. Down by 10 points with less than 2 minutes left, the offense needs to get down the field, fast. The play calling didn’t give the team a chance to do that.
Jeremy Zuttah - Three penalties in the game, and didn’t block particularly well either.
Anyone covering Dez Bryant - Bryant was open A LOT in this game. Yes, the secondary was depleted, but Dean Pees should at least have called double teams on Bryant. He had way too much confidence in Shareece Wright and Tavon Young against a top wide receiver in an elite offense.
Jerraud Powers - Allowed Cole Beasley to get open on a key third down with six minutes left in the fourth, and then allowed Beasley to continue upfield. This was a series which the Raven were dominating to that point. Dallas was able to eat more time off the clock that the Ravens could have used to try to get into the end zone.
Not a good second half for the Ravens, the Ravens will need to rebound next week against the Bengals. The problems remain what they have always been: the offense just isn’t very good. Maybe they can finally figure it out.