BALTIMORE, Md.–Dallas’ second-year kicker Dan Bailey missed a 51-yard field goal attempt wide left during the final seconds of the game as the Baltimore Ravens held off the Cowboys, 31-29, in a tough non-conference game on Oct. 14 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.

The victory, which included a Raven record-tying kickoff return, brought Baltimore’s record to 14 straight home games and 22 wins for their last 23 contests at M&T Bank Stadium, but Dallas came really close when they reached field goal range with six seconds left in the game. Instead, they left losers with a 2-3 overall record as Bailey blew the potential game-winning field goal.

Dallas was able to get into field goal range after recovering an onside kick following their final touchdown drive. They had a chance to tie the game before the field goal attempt when quarterback Tony Romo tossed a short touchdown pass to receiver Dez Bryant, cutting the Ravens lead to 31-29, with 50 seconds left in the game. Dallas’ point-after attempt was for two points instead of one to try to tie the game at 31. But they failed to convert it as Bryant dropped a pass from Romo that bounced off his hands.

Many fans began to exit the stadium after the failed two-point attempt, thinking the game was over, but Dallas surprised everyone by kicking and recovering an onside kick.

Fortunately for Baltimore, Bailey’s field goal miss saved them from a heartbreaking loss.

Most Outstanding Player(s) of the Game:
Ravens’ fifth-year veteran running back Ray Rice was a big playmaker against the Cowboys, scoring twice on two touchdown runs in the game. He rushed for 63 yards on 16 caries and also caught one pass for 43 yards. He recorded more than 100 yards on offense for the 37th time of his career, 35 times since 2009, the most of any player in the NFL during that span.

Fifth-year quarterback Joe Flacco also performed well, completing 17 of 26 passes for 234 yards, a touchdown, zero turnovers and a stellar passer rating of 106.9. His lone touchdown pass was caught by second-year receiver Torrey Smith for 19 yards.

Unsung Hero of the Game:
Ravens’ cornerback Cary Williams forced the only turnover of the game by intercepting a pass from Romo in the first half; this marked the third straight game that Williams has recorded an interception after once being considered the weakest link of the Ravens’ secondary. Ironically, Williams ended up being one of the strongest contributors to the Ravens’ secondary after both starting cornerbacks Lardarious Webb and Jimmy Smith left the game with injuries. Williams gave up a touchdown to Bryant at the end of the game, but came right back to defend Bryant successfully on the subsequent two-point try.

On offense, the unsung hero goes to rookie right tackle Kelechi Osemele, who did an excellent job blocking for the Ravens’ passing and rushing attack. He had to take on Cowboys’ all-pro defensive end DeMarcus Ware, perhaps the best pass rusher in the league, but held Ware to only one sack all game.

On one play, he perfectly picked up a charging Ware, giving Flacco plenty of time to find wide open receiver Anquan Boldin for a first down in a third-and-15-yard situation. He also helped plow huge running lanes for Rice to dash through for two touchdowns.

More Game Notes:
Ravens receiver Jacoby Jones tied a National Football League record with a 108 yard kickoff return in the opening minutes of the second half.

Romo completed 25 of 36 passes for 261 yards, two touchdowns, an interception and a passer rating of 97.1. He hooked up with Bryant often in the game as Bryant caught 13 passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns.

Cowboys running backs DeMarco Murray rushed for 93 yards on 14 carries before leaving the game with an injury. Running back Felix Jones came in for Murray and rushed for 92 yards on 18 carries, while running back Phillip Tanner added 31 yards on nine carries for Dallas.

Altogether, Dallas recorded 481 yards on offense, 227 yards of it was gained through the running game. That’s the most rushing yards Baltimore has allowed in a single game in franchise history.

With Dallas’ running game so effective, they were able to control the time of possession, holding the ball 40 minutes compared to the Ravens’ 20 minutes of control. Still, Baltimore managed to pull out the home victory, advancing to a 5-1 overall record for the first time since 2000, the same season they won a Super Bowl.

Next-up: The Ravens (5-1 overall) will take on the Houston Texans (5-0 overall) next Oct. 21 in Houston, Texas. The winner of the game will determine first place in the American Football Conference.


Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor