Well, the Ravens fell to the Cowboys on Sunday and neither side of the ball played well enough to win in the second half of the game. Baltimore now owns a .500 record, and falls into a virtual tie with Pittsburgh for the division lead.
The final seven minutes of the game were especially disheartening, on account of the defense failing to stop a time consuming drive that allowed Dallas to extend the lead to two scores, and the offense showing a disturbing lack of urgency on their final drive.
Nevertheless, there are a few reasons to remain optimistic following the loss:
- The Ravens won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. No small feat against one of the top offensive lines in the league. Dallas was held to 3.9-yards per carry, while the Ravens gained 6.3-yards per rushing attempt against their respectable defense.
Marshal Yanda and Brandon Williams had their way in the trenches throughout this game. The official game book shows Baltimore’s defensive front with five quarterback hits, four tackles for a loss and one sack, besting the Cowboys three quarterback hits, three tackles for a loss and one sack.
- The Ravens wide receivers are playing at a high level. Steve Smith Sr. caught eight of nine targets for 99-yards and a score. Mike Wallace and Kamar Aiken tallied another 97-yards combined. Senior seemingly carries the offense by sheer will at times, he is still a legitimate number one receiver at 37-years old.
This Week 11 performance followed a strong effort against the Browns last week, when Smith, Wallace, Breshad Perriman and hybrid receiver Darren Waller managed over 200-yards and two touchdowns. The week before that, a victory against the Steelers, Wallace scored a 95-yard touchdown and the receiver corps posted 230 total receiving yards.
- The Ravens are still in first place in the AFC North, and the division looks quite winnable. Cincinnati lost at home to Buffalo, with star receiver A.J. Green leaving the game due to a likely serious hamstring tear. Considering Green has dominated the Ravens in recent meetings, his possible absence could shift the balance of the series.
The Steelers beat the lowly Browns, but were not overly impressive. Pittsburgh plays Indianapolis, Buffalo and Cincinnati on the road, and the Giants at home before hosting the Ravens in Week 16. If the Ravens can find two wins between the next four opponents - Cincinnati, Miami, Philadelphia at home and the Patriots on the road - they should be able to put the division away by producing a season sweep over Pittsburgh on Christmas Day.