Rough second half downs Baltimore against NFL-best Dallas
ARLINGTON, Texas — Joe Flacco didn’t care that Baltimore was playing the team with the NFL’s best record, and John Harbaugh didn’t seem to either.
The quarterback and the coach believe the Ravens are up there with any opponent despite Sunday’s 27-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys that dropped them back to .500 — but still tied for first with Pittsburgh in the AFC North.
Oh, and Baltimore (5-5) has a win over the Steelers.
“We’re definitely good enough to win any game we play in the National Football League,” Harbaugh said. “Our eyes go to next week against Cincinnati at home. Six-game season and we need to take care of our business, and part of that’s improving.”
The Ravens forced punts on the first four Dallas possessions — a first against the Cowboys this season — and held NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott to 26 yards in the first half.
But Dallas had scoring drives of 92 and 88 yards to start the second half, breaking a 10-10 tie. And the Ravens couldn’t stop the Cowboys after Flacco’s scoring pass to Steve Smith got them within a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“Five straight scoring drives is impressive,” Baltimore safety Eric Weddle said. “It’s the little things that count when both teams are good.”
Dallas rookie Dak Prescott threw three touchdown passes, two to Dez Bryant , in his first game with Tony Romo as the backup. The Cowboys (9-1) have a franchise regular-season record with nine straight wins, topping the 1977 team that started 8-0 and won the Super Bowl.
“I am going to continue to stay away from it,” said ever-optimistic Dallas owner Jerry Jones, who’s been known to engage in Super Bowl talk in the past. “I can hang my hat on this little thing called nine wins in a row.”
Things to consider after the Ravens lost to the Cowboys for the first time, a span covering five games:
Smith's milestone: The 16th-year receiver can move on to trying to reach the postseason for the sixth time in his career after becoming the 14th player with 1,000 catches . He caught eight for a game-high 99 yards, including the 5-yard score and a toe-tapping gem for No. 999.
“Bittersweet, I guess,” he said. “I’d give all that back to win, to be honest.”
The Romo factor: The 36-year-old who broke a bone in his back in a preseason game was active for the first time since last Thanksgiving, and was the backup for the first time in 10 years. Now that those milestones are cleared, the Cowboys press onward with Prescott, who is second to Ben Roethlisberger (13 in 2004) for consecutive wins by a rookie quarterback.
“There are distractions in life,” coach Jason Garrett said. “The people who are the best at what they do are able to focus on the task at hand.”
Blocking carousel: The Ravens protected Flacco well (one sack) and averaged 6.3 yards per carry in limited chances in the running game. Marshal Yanda switched from right guard to left guard with Alex Smith out with a high ankle sprain.
“Clearly, if you look at the game, we can play with them toe to toe,” said center Jeremy Zuttah, the only lineman to play the same position all 10 games. “We just have to clean up some stupid stuff.”
Steady Elliott: Elliott is proving to be reliable along with explosive , even against the NFL’s top rushing defense. He persevered to finish with 97 yards on 25 carries, a 3.9-yard average. He has at least 92 yards in eight straight games, and broke Tony Dorsett’s club rookie rushing record of 1,007 yards from the Super Bowl season in 1977.
“It’s one more step to where we want to be,” said Elliott, who has 1,102 yards. “One step more to greatness.”
Dak, Dan and Russell: Prescott joined Dan Marino and Russell Wilson as the only rookie quarterbacks since 1970 to have multiple touchdown passes in five consecutive games.