Smith’s absence, penalties haunt Ravens in 27-17 loss to Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TX – For the first time ever, the Dallas Cowboys have defeated the Baltimore Ravens. On Sunday “America’s Team” snapped Baltimore’s two-game winning streak, picking up a 27-17 win at Jerry World. The Ravens are now 5-5, while the Cowboys advance to an NFL-best 9-1 record.

At halftime, the game was tied at 10. In the second half, the Cowboys came alive. In Dallas’s three offensive drives in the second half, the Cowboys ran 36 plays for 252 yards, two touchdowns and a field goal. As for the Ravens, they opened up the second half by punting on their first two offensive series, and were unable to catch up with Dallas as the game progressed.

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Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant evades Baltimore corner-back Shareece Wright and safety Lardarius Webb. Credit: Newsday
The absence of corner-back Jimmy Smith spelled doom for the Ravens. Dez Bryant, Dallas’s top receiver, finished the game with 80 receiving yards and two touchdown catches off of six total receptions. Cole Beasley caught five passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. The Ravens kept star rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott to under 100 yards rushing (97 yards on 25 carries, with a long of 14 yards), but Dallas was more than successful in their attack through the air.

When the Ravens have been without Smith this season, the secondary has been blown away. Look no further than Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr’s eight catch, 222 yard, two touchdown performance against the Ravens. In that game, Smith suffered a concussion in the first half.

Penalties also kept the Ravens back in Sunday’s game. Baltimore was flagged 12 times in Sunday’s loss, and those penalties resulted in 136 lost yards. Center Jeremy Zuttah had a hand in killing several drives for the Ravens. Zuttah was flagged for two holding penalties in the first half: one occurring on second down, causing a third-and-14 that resulted in a Ravens punt; the other coming with two minutes left, when the Ravens converted a third -and-four on a pass to wide receiver Mike Wallace. But, Zuttah was flagged for holding, and the Ravens had to kick a field goal after failing to convert a third-and-14. In the second half, Zuttah was flagged for unnecessary roughness, which resulted in another Ravens punt.

Mistakes like that cannot happen. Sure, there were nine other Baltimore penalties, but those three penalties all by the same player were brutal to Baltimore’s momentum.

“[The Cowboys] didn’t make the mistakes that we did,” head coach John Harbaugh said after the game. “They made the plays down the stretch, both run and pass, that we didn’t make. That’s what it boiled down to at the end.”

The Ravens punted on their first drive, but in their second drive they put together a six-play, 90-yard drive that ended with an 18-yard touchdown run by Terrance West. In that drive, Joe Flacco found Mike Wallace for a 27-yard gain, and rookie running back Kenneth Dixon had a nice 20-yard run.

Baltimore found the end zone again in the second half on a four-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Steve Smith Sr. That touchdown came at the tail end of a eight play, 75-yard drive. The score made it 24-17 Cowboys with 8:16 remaining in the game. However, Dallas responded by running six minutes off the clock and kicking a field goal at the end of a 13 play, 72-yard drive that left just 1:50 left on the clock and the Ravens trailing by 10.

During the game, Smith Sr. caught his 1000th career reception, a 22-yarder on the first play of the third quarter. Smith Sr. becomes the 14th player in NFL history to notch 1,000 career catches, joining the likes of Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison, Larry Fitzgerald and former Raven Anquan Boldin.

Next week the Ravens will have their third divisional match-up in four games as the Cincinnati Bengals (3-6-1) make their annual trip to M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens are 3-0 in divisional games so far, but they have lost five straight games to the Bengals. However, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (A.K.A. The Raven Killer) left the Bengals’ game today against the Bills with what is believed to be a torn hamstring. If Jimmy Smith’s back injury lingers, the absence of Green might put a blanket on the Ravens’ secondary struggles. Kickoff is 1:00 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium.

 

 

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