Going into Texas, the Baltimore Ravens (5-5) knew they were going to need to deliver a dominant defensive performance if they wanted to have a chance to knock of the red-hot Dallas Cowboys (9-1).
However, the Ravens went into this game shorthanded in their secondary, as a back injury would prevent cornerback Jimmy Smith from playing. This ended up being a major blow to Baltimore, as cornerbacks Shareece Wright and Tavon Young had no answers for the Cowboys’ rushing attack and through the air.
Dak Prescott carved up the Ravens’ secondary by completing 27 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns. Prescott threw all three touchdowns in the red zone, and two of these scoring plays ended with the football landing in the hands of Dez Bryant, who played a colossal role in his signal caller’s successful day, catching six passes for 80 yards along with the pair of touchdowns.
Due in large part to Prescott’s ability to spread the ball around, Jason Witten, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley, and Brice Butler were all able to make their contributions to Dallas’ victory, as each of these players recorded at least 30 yards receiving.
Despite being held to only 26 yards rushing in the first half, Elliott roared back in the second half, picking up a total of 71 yards following halftime. Elliott was limited from breaking away with big runs, but his average of 3.9 yards a carry ultimately made the difference in this game.
Baltimore’s offense held their own against Dallas, as Joe Flacco completed 23 of his passes for 269 yards and a touchdown. Flacco also refrained from turning the ball over, which helped keep this game competitive.
Steve Smith had an historical game, becoming only the 14th player in NFL history to reel in 1,000 career catches. His thousandth reception ended up resulting in a first down for Baltimore. Smith, Sr. finished the game as the Ravens’ leading receiver, catching eight passes for 99 yards and a touchdown.
Baltimore’s ground game delivered a serviceable performance against Dallas’ front seven, with Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon churning up 82 yards on the ground. West drew first blood against the Cowboys in the first quarter, making Dallas’ defense look out-of-sync en route to a 18-yards scamper for a score.
The Ravens were somewhat able to neutralize the NFL’s leading rusher, but Prescott and Dallas’ receivers had a clear edge over Baltimore’ secondary, which played a heavy impact on the outcome. Despite falling to the best team in the league, the Ravens are still in first place in the AFC North, which is currently the worst division in the NFL. It is becoming clear the AFC North won’t be sending two teams to the playoffs, so winning the division is officially becoming Baltimore’s only prayer of tasting the postseason.
“We’re improving,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told reporters after the game. “We’re becoming better, but we’re not there yet to win this game, because you’ve got to play pretty much mistake-free football, and you’ve got to make a few more plays, which I truly believe we are capable of doing.”
The Ravens will return to Baltimore next Sunday to take on their division rival, the Cincinnati Bengals, on Nov. 27.