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Ravens vs. Cowboys final recap: No X’s, but a W

This one’s for Dez

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore Ravens Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens thought they were finally out of the media circus following their forever-delayed game against Pittsburgh, but a surprise positive COVID test from Dez Bryant and subsequent deactivation kept the fire alive. Even though Dez was sadly barred from throwing X’s up on the field, there were no restrictions on his ability to celebrate an encouraging win. Let’s see how it went:

The Cowboys opening drive started out pretty well with some short catch and run plays that moved them down the field. After five plays and two first downs, however, they added a holding penalty and a four yard loss on a screen to CeeDee Lamb that effectively killed the drive and handed the ball to the Ravens.

Lamar Jackson’s first offensive drive since going on the COVID reserve list started out looking just the way you expect, with him burning Jaylon Smith around the edge on a bootleg run for a first down. The homecoming party dwindled quickly after that, though, as he threw an interception three plays later on a pass that glanced off the hands of Marquise Brown.

Luckily for the Ravens, the Cowboys could not capitalize on the field position from the turnover and walked off the field with only a field goal to show for it.

Lamar’s second drive was much more what fans expected to see. After working down the field on three straight rushes, the offense found themselves in a fourth-and-two situation. In a moment very reminiscent of last year’s fourth down try in Seattle, Lamar waved the kicking unit off the field and lined up to go for it. After making sure Boykin was set following his motion across the field, Lamar called for the snap and took the ball right up the middle of the field for a 37 yard touchdown.

The good feelings quickly subsided on the following kickoff when the Cowboys’ Tony Pollard took a Justin Tucker kickoff 66 yards into Baltimore territory. Three plays later, Dallas found pay dirt on a Michael Gallup touchdown reception to go up 10-7.

The Ravens next possession started pretty hot, with a 36-yard Gus Edwards run on the third play, during which he showed the world he is more than just a “north-south runner” (stop calling him that).

In truly shocking fashion, they were unable to tie the game up, as a false start penalty wiped away a Justin Tucker field goal before he pushed it wide on the try that counted. That’s right, he actually missed one.

This will likely be forgotten by Ravens fans, however, considering what happened next. Former AFC North foe, Andy Dalton, threw a tipped-ball interception to Patrick Queen on the Cowboys’ second play of the drive and one play later, oft-derided second-year receiver, Miles Boykin, was strutting into the end zone after getting behind a busted coverage and taking it 38 yards to the promised land. The Ravens regained the lead at 14-10.

The following Cowboys possession was a methodical one, taking 11 plays and five game minutes to travel 52 yards to the Ravens’ 17. In a show of good faith, they committed a delay of game penalty to move back five yards and Greg Zuerlein promptly ripped the kick wide right to bring the kicking contest back even.

The Ravens got the ball back with just over two minutes left and went to work, drawing a pass interference call on a pass to Luke Willson over the middle and following it up with a 30 yard run by JK Dobbins down the left sideline. Right after accruing their weekly illegal formation penalty (declined), Justin Tucker came back out redeemed his earlier miss to extend the lead to seven.

The Cowboys got one last possession before the half expired and really made the Ravens work to get into the locker room. After moving the ball to midfield, the Cowboys got called on a false start. The very next play, DeShon Elliott got away with holding up CeeDee Lamb on a route downfield to force fourth down. Both teams took timeouts before Andy Dalton heaved one towards the end zone that fell incomplete. The score remained 17-10 in the ravens favor at the break.

The Ravens’ first drive out of halftime was promising, yet uninspiring, as they went three-and-out when Jackson badly missed Boykin on a wide open third down route.

After another eight plays from the Cowboys offense, Zuerlein again strengthened his campaign for mayor of Baltimore with another ugly miss to keep his team down by seven.

With his second possession of the ball for the second half, Lamar orchestrated an inspiring touchdown drive. Lamar looked like he was getting in rhythm after trading a few rushes with JK Dobbins to push the offense to the red zone and paid it off with a beautiful dime to Marquise Brown in the corner of the end zone.

The play was a beautiful demonstration of both players’ improvisation capabilities and a sight for many fans’ sore eyes.

Andy Dalton led the Cowboys back onto the field for another long drive that lasted 10 plays and went 52 yards before he was sacked for an eight yard loss. This sent Greg Zuerlein back onto the field and, were it not for a pandemic that has forced fans to stay home, he may very well be the owner of a few thousand more hats as he shanked his third field goal of the night to keep the score 24-10.

The Ravens offense once again worked their way down the field with help from an explosive rushing play, this time a 21-yard run from the Bus. After 10 plays and six game minutes, they extended their lead another three points, though a picky fan might point out the four additional points left on the field by an errant Jackson pass to Miles Boykin in the back of the end zone.

The next Cowboys possession was nearly brought to an end by a close call on an LJ Fort interception attempt, but Dallas instead completed an 11-play, 75-yard drive with a touchdown to Amari Cooper on fourth down to make the game appear a bit more respectable.

The last meaningful Ravens possession once again featured a big run from one of their backs and once again it was Gus Edwards scorching down the right sideline for 24 yards. Two plays later, his counterpart in JK Dobbins was dancing on purple grass as Orlando Brown Jr. exclaimed “EASY MONEY!” to the FOX broadcast team.

This would effectively bring an end to the game after a final Cowboys possession that resulted in no points scored.

The Ravens did what they had to do and did it in convincing fashion. They will have to continue this trend in Cleveland on Monday night if they want to hold their playoff destiny in their own hands. Normally, this would be all but written in stone, but it’s possible this Browns team may actually be decent. We will surely find out in six days.