BALTIMORE (AP) – The Dallas Cowboys had every reason to be proud.
They amassed 481 yards, including 227 on the ground — more than any team had ever run for against the Baltimore Ravens. Dallas held the ball for more than 40 minutes, reached a season high in points and totaled 30 first downs.
It would have been a Sunday worth celebrating. Except for the final score: Ravens 31, Cowboys 29.
Jacoby Jones tied an NFL record with a 108-yard kickoff return, and Baltimore won its 14th straight at home by holding off two Dallas threats in the final minute.
“I am sick about losing this game,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “This is a very tough place to play. We made our share of mistakes, but I thought we had a shot to win at the end.”
They sure did.
After Dez Bryant scored on a 4-yard pass from Tony Romo with 32 seconds left to make it 31-29, the 2-point conversion pass zipped through the arms of the diving Bryant in the front left corner of the end zone.
Dallas recovered the onside kick, but Dan Bailey was wide left on a 51-yard field goal try with 6 seconds remaining.
“I felt like I struck it pretty well,” Bailey said. “Obviously, not well enough.”
For all they accomplished offensively, the Cowboys (2-3) still headed home with a loss.
“Ultimately, hey look, there’s no moral victories,” tight end Jason Witten said. “Obviously they’re a good team and you don’t walk away saying, ‘Hey, we ‘played a good team close.’ You walk away saying, ‘We had an opportunity and we lost.'”
Dallas coach Jason Garrett added, “I felt we fought really hard and well through a lot of different adversities in all three phases. (The Ravens) have been awfully good for a while. This team’s been awfully good in this place for a while. We gave them everything they could handle.”
Ray Rice scored two touchdowns and Joe Flacco threw for 234 yards and a score to help the Ravens (5-1) secure their fourth consecutive victory and enhance their grip on first place in the AFC North. Baltimore’s home winning streak is the longest current run in the NFL.
Jones’ return tied the mark set by Ellis Hobbs of New England in 2007 and tied in 2011 by Randall Cobb of Green Bay.
“To set the National Football League record for a kickoff return, in what was the difference in the game, is pretty special,” coach John Harbaugh said.
The score was essential to the Ravens, who mustered only 1 yard on three offensive plays in the third quarter.
After Jones’ touchdown, the Cowboys launched an 80-yard march that ate up more than eight minutes. Romo connected with Bryant for 13 yards on a third-and-11 before throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to Bryant to make it 24-20.
Dallas followed with two strong defensive series, and a short punt by Baltimore preceded a 21-yard drive to a field goal by Bailey.
Flacco then directed a 10-play, 73-yard march. A 31-yard completion to Anquan Boldin moved the ball to the Dallas 4, and Rice scored from the 1 to provide the Ravens an eight-point cushion.
The Cowboys rallied, but could not complete the comeback.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to finish the game and we have to win the game,” Garrett said. “We didn’t do that.”
Romo went 25 for 36 for 261 yards and two touchdowns, a redemptive performance after he threw five interceptions in his last outing against Chicago. DeMarco Murray ran for 93 yards, Felix Jones had 92 on the ground and Bryant caught 13 passes for 95 yards and two TDs.
Murray left in the second half with a left foot injury; his absence did little to deter the Cowboys’ running game.
“We ran it inside, we ran it outside, we got some stuff off the run game,” Garrett said. “We kept the ball for a long time and those were all good things.”
Baltimore trailed 10-3 before scoring touchdowns on a pair of 80-yard drives to take a 17-10 halftime lead.
The Ravens pulled even when Rice ran in from the 1 after a hands-to-the-face penalty against Dallas lineman Kenyon Coleman on third-and-goal from the 2. Earlier in the march, Rice ran 43 yards with a short pass.
Cary Williams’ third interception in three games gave the ball back to Baltimore. Flacco completed two 20-yard passes to Boldin before hitting Torrey Smith for a 19-yard score with 41 seconds left in the half.
Facing the top-ranked pass defense in the NFL, Flacco went 13 for 18 for 174 yards in the first half.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Also Check Out: