BALTIMORE — In the final frantic two minutes, Baltimore Ravens players hobbled on and off the field, some occupying roles that they had never before been asked to fill. By necessity, Dean Pees sent in defensive packages that the Ravens hadn’t even practiced, all while a once-comfortable lead and the NFL’s longest home winning streak hung in the balance.
The Dallas Cowboys, who had possession pretty much all afternoon (40 minutes 3 seconds), had two chances in the game’s final 36 seconds to either beat the Ravens or at the very least, send the game into overtime.
The first one slipped through Dez Bryant’s fingers, the wide receiver failing to hold on to Tony Romo’s two-point conversion pass attempt which would have tied the game. The second one, following the Cowboys’ recovery of an onside kick in Ravens’ territory, came off Dan Bailey’s right foot and then veered wide left of the upright.
Bailey’s miss from 51 yards in the waning seconds allowed the Ravens to finally exhale and celebrate a pulsating 31-29 victory in front of an announced 71,384 at M&T Bank Stadium.
“It was crazy to watch it over there, but we did what we needed to. I guess maybe they didn’t quite do what they had to do, but it was a crazy finish,” said Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who threw for 234 yards and one touchdown, a 19-yard strike to Torrey Smith that sent the home team into halftime with a 17-10 lead. “I don’t know if we necessarily deserve to win this game, but we’ll take it. We’ll get the [heck] out of here really quick and go home and fall asleep and wake up the next morning with a win.”
They’ll wake up with a 5-1 record for only the second time in franchise history, a two-game lead in the AFC North and a 14-game home winning streak. Their latest victory, however, came at quite a cost, and not just to the psyche of a proud defense that continues to get pushed around at the line of scrimmage and give up yards at a staggering rate.
Lardarius Webb, the Ravens’ best cornerback, likely tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee late in the first quarter and is expected to be out the rest of this season. Middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the team’s leading tackler and emotional leader, watched the Cowboys’ final two drives on the sideline while getting treatment on his right arm. Lewis wasn’t available to reporters after the game, but he’s planning to get an MRI exam a magnetic resonance imaging taken on his right triceps with the worst-case scenario being a potentially season-ending tear.
“Our guys stepped up in the face of some real adversity,” said Ravens Coach John Harbaugh. “We had some injuries, especially on the defensive side. We were in a physical fist fight from beginning to end. They through a lot of haymakers at us, and our guys stepped up at the end and found a way to win.”
— Baltimore Sun