Despite some rough patches throughout the game, the Baltimore Ravens played well enough to stay alive against the Dallas Cowboys. The Ravens’ defense and special teams brought in two touchdowns before quarterback Joe Flacco even made it to the field.
Outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw recovered a botched handoff by Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and returned it 26 yards for the first touchdown. Wide receiver Deonte Thompson put the next touchdown on the board with a 108-yard kickoff return, which was impressive from a receiver fighting to stay on the roster. Even with an early lead, the Ravens offense had a rough start and Flacco wasn’t as strong as last week in Baltimore against the 49ers. He finished the game 9-of -17 passing for 113 yards and a touchdown, which brought back bad memories of last year’s offense.
On his fourth offensive series, Flacco moved the team 96 yards down the field for a remarkable touchdown pass to wide receiver Torrey Smith. Because of the slow start, the first-team offense played the entire first half. Gary Kubiak’s offense looked new and improved again this week, and the running game had another great performance. Bernard Pierce carried seven times for 55 yards while Ray Rice carried twice for 21 yards. Despite his second fumble of the preseason, rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro showed his athleticism with 16 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown. This is a good sign for the Ravens who finished the night with 151 rushing yards.
Rice only played the second series due to a shoulder bruise, which doesn’t appear to be serious. Starting cornerback Jimmy Smith left the game with a chest injury after landing on his back while defending a pass to Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, but his X-rays came back negative. Dominique Franks replaced Smith on the first-team defense and unfortunately allowed a touchdown to Bryant in the first quarter. Most of the Ravens’ defensive starters played four series and allowed 10 points.
“Our defense got a little tired from being out there for so many plays early,” Coach John Harbaugh said in an interview with BaltimoreRavens.com. “That’s a good test to get in the preseason, and it came against a very good offense.”
The cornerback competition is still high and no changes were really made after tonight. The Ravens’ defense thankfully held it together through the end and safety Brynden Trawick stood out with his interception. Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee also stood out as a significant pass rusher and with his physical sack on Cowboys backup quarterback Brandon Weeden. Kicker Justin Tucker made a difference as always with three field goals for the night. Regardless of the Cowboys’ pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the Baltimore Ravens held onto the lead for their second preseason win.