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Ravens-Cowboys Postmortem

I was seriously considering spending most of this entry ripping on Willis McGahee for being a terrible running back. At that point in Saturday’s game, he had just missed a block, which led to Joe Flacco getting decked.

But then McGahee had his best run of the season. A little up-the-gut run that he took for 77 yards.Is that run enough to make me forgive him for falling down as soon as he is touched and for missing easy blocks? For the time being, yes. Especially since La’Ron McClain followed in his footsteps on the next possession and cemented the Ravens’ win over Dallas.

The last game in Texas stadium’s history will go down as a Ravens victory. There’s nothing wrong with that in my mind. It was a great victory that was made sweeter by spoiling Jerry Jones’ party. Not only was it the last game for Texas stadium, it was probably Wade Phillips’ last game as a coach in Dallas. That should put a few Dallas-area Arby’s restaurants out of business.

For Dallas, the big question probably centers on Tony Romo. A lot of people have said for a while now that Romo is not a big-game quarterback. I honestly have not watched him that much, and after watching him play last night, I don’t think that I will be paying him much attention in the future. He was awful. I’ll give Ed Reed a lot of credit for his two picks in the game, but let’s be honest — those two passes were duds from the moment they left Romo’s hand. I think the Ravens got in his head so bad after that first pick that the Cowboys would probably have been better served putting Brad Johnson in.

The Ravens’ defense was fired up for two reasons — for the major call in last week’s game and to spoil the Dallas party. Aside from a few missteps, the defense played lights out and it seems like they are peaking right now. That’s exactly where we want them to be.

As for the offense, you could tell Flacco was a little intimidated. He threw a lot of high passes and didn’t seem to find his rhythm until the third quarter. The gods were smiling on him this week though, because there were a few throws that seemed destined for Dallas that ended up on the turf.

Derrick Mason showed once again why he is one of the greatest wideouts that you never hear about. After every catch he made, he came off the field in excruciating pain and yet he always made it back in. He knows that he’s Flacco’s safety net. The way Flacco was being pressured, he needed Mason on the field.

Mark Clayton had another solid evening. He is starting to show that he may become a reliable go-to guy when Mason can no longer fit the bill. The offensive line got beaten down pretty good. Throughout the first half, the Dallas defense seemed to live in the backfield but the Ravens stuck with the run, which paid off. By the second half, the Dallas defense was on their heels from being run at so many times. When you have guys like Lorenzo Neal and McClain pounding on you play after play, most teams will give, and Dallas finally did.

Special teams appears to be getting better and a lot of that has to do with Jim Leonhard. He has the focus and the guts to make those catches in traffic that Yamon Figurs would run from or fumble. Granted, Leonhard doesn’t have the speed that Figurs does but he has the hands, which to me is more important.

I wasn’t convinced that the Ravens were going to pull that game out until McClain sealed it. I just felt that Dallas couldn’t possibly lie down and die like they did. I was waiting for another 92-yard drive.

After this game I think the Ravens are playing some of the best football they have played in years. With Jacksonville at home next week the Ravens are primed for the playoffs. It’s in their hands. Watching your team play at home for a spot in the playoffs is almost as good as it gets for a fan. Forget Christmas — I can’t wait for Sunday. Happy holidays everyone.

(photo borrowed)

9 comments to Ravens-Cowboys Postmortem

  • neal s

    I’m assuming the Ravens get the #6 seed, which would put them in position to play the #3 and then, if they win, the Titans. If they were to then beat the Titans and the Steelers were to win their game, it would set up one hell of an AFC championship game at Heinz Field.

    It’s a tough road for sure, but wouldn’t that be something?

  • Greg

    Y’all better just be hoping the Dolphins win next week; I don’t see us being real good against the Pats in the playoffs.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    ravens at new england (only time you’ll see me post this team here).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lv2mTjTb46c

    seriously the more i think about it the more i want it.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    @justin – derrick mason seriously vaulted into my top ten ravens list against dallas. maybe my top five. there was something about what he did the other night that literally inspired ME – let alone his teammates.

    even my wife (who could care less about football) was floored by it.

    my top ten list off the top of my head:

    1. ed reed
    2. ed reed
    3. jonathan ogden
    4. jamal lewis
    5. ray lewis
    6. derrick mason
    7. rob burnett
    8. earnest byner
    9. joe flacco (already)
    10. matt stover (gotta have a current raven and original brown)

    i’m sure i forgot ten people

  • Greg

    McGahee is still a terrible running back, Neal. I hope we trade him to the Lions for Calvin Johnson or something.

  • neal s

    Take it up with Justin, my man. I completely agree with you (assuming the Calvin Johnson thing was a joke).

  • Greg

    Oh yeah, it is Justin doing the writing here. My bad.

    Calvin Johnson was only said in half-jest.

  • Steve

    McGahee is still a bum, but he had three solid plays in the game. We had one catch on third and long for a first down where he showed acceleration, beating man coverage. On the run before the big run, on the previous drive, he took a toss right, made a man miss, then lowered his shoulder and bounced a defensive back to the ground. That was good for 8 yards or so. It was the first time all season I saw him deliver a blow to a defender.

    I really wonder what’s up with his body, he must be hiding a serious injury. I just can’t believe the hesitancy and inability to take contact is due to a new playbook or him losing his football acumen. He’s never been a great back, but this year he’s been playing scared.

    In regards to Leonhard/Figurs, it wouldn’t matter if figurs could run the 40 in 3 seconds. He doesn’t make cuts, and he’s scared of contact. If he can’t figure out the lateral mobility thing (ala Roscoe Parrish, Devin Hester, Alan Rossum), he’s done as a kick returner. I think he just has the wrong body type, long and lean. Leonhard is shorter and more compact, so he has the lateral quickness Figurs lacks.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    mcgahee isn’t a great back but give the guy a break it’s his worst year by far:

    wet willie parker
    GP Att Yds Avg TDs
    10 186 673 3.6 4

    mcgahee
    GP Att Yds Avg TDs
    12 166 647 3.9 6

    and willis has only been the featured back in what, three or four games?