Thoughts from the film room at Valley Ranch after watching the defensive side of the ball against the Ravens.
- If you were to tell Rob Ryan before this game that Ray Rice was going to have 63 yards rushing and only one catch for the game, would you take that defensively for his squad? I honestly believe that he would have laughed at you. I really did enjoy studying Rice last week because I don't always get to see him play that much except for games on TV. Rice is a special back there is no question about that and what this defense was able to do to him overall was impressive. Ryan did a really good job of giving the Ravens different looks with his base defense but playing some 4 – 3 as well to make up for the lack of Anthony Spencer. Sean Lee and Bruce Carter as outside linebackers were affective which never really allowed Rice to get things going and which is no easy task. One of the keys to this game was going to be the front seven for the Cowboys playing square. There were plenty of games where I had seen this Ravens offensive line push on defenses and get them turned. For the Cowboys, Kenyon Coleman, Jay Ratliff, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and Alex Albright did a nice job of playing the type of technique that you had to have to keep Rice in check. Coleman was especially good playing with his hands and playing with power and getting off blocks. Thought it was an outstanding game for him.
- The Cowboys coaching staff has to have some concerns about the overall health of this secondary after this game against the Ravens because things are not going to get any easier with Panthers, Giants, Atlanta and Eagles in coming games. Morris Claiborne has really been battling knee issues since training camp and now Mike Jenkins has to get an MRI on his surgically repaired shoulder. I know I sound like a broken record but I am surprised that no one has really challenged Claiborne more down the field. The Ravens did throw his direction to Torrey Smith for a touchdown and Smith was able to draw a pass interference call but when I saw the play from the press box, I thought it was a poor call and studying the game last night on tape, it looked even worse. Claiborne physically doesn't look right with the way he is moving and there still have a large majority of the season still left to play. The backup plan is to have Jenkins there to pick up the slack but if he is struggling with shoulder issues again, that will not help matters. Jenkins did fight through the problems last season and will most likely have to do it again this season.
- Brandon Carr started the season off well but has struggled some the last two weeks. From my scout's eye, I never like to see Carr play off in coverage because he doesn't have the explosive burst or quickness you would see in a player like Mike Jenkins. The respect I have for Carr is his ability to line up across from his man and physically wear him out playing in press coverage. Carr really does a nice job when he can get his hands on his man and put himself in position to stay in coverage. Carr knows he doesn't have great catch up speed but what he does have is smarts in his technique and the way he is able to mirror his man. On Sunday, there were too many times where Carr had to try and drive on the ball to make a play. When he can get tight to the receiver and fight for the ball he is at his best. There was one time where he was in press coverage against Anquan Boldin set himself in good position with his press, had him where he wanted but slipped on the play and it resulted in a 31 yard gain. Brandon Carr needs to get back to playing like Brandon Carr who we saw in training camp and the first three weeks of the season because now, he doesn't look like the same player.
- The Ravens didn't get many offensive snaps but they were able to take advantage of the ones they did have. There were big plays by Rice, Boldin and Pitta that hurt the Cowboys defensively but the big difference in this game was the drive that the Ravens had in the fourth quarter with the game on the line which had a similar feel to the loss in New England last season where the Cowboys made a key three and out stop only to give up a game winning touchdown to the Patriots on the final drive. The Cowboys had held the Ravens to back-to-back three and outs in the second half before the Ravens got the ball with 8:22 left in the fourth quarter. To the Ravens credit, they didn't try and sit on the one point lead, instead they went no huddle and worked their way down the field. It started with a Rice nine yard run when he was able to bounce it outside with Lee and Carter both getting blocked inside and Victor Butler struggling on the edge. On 2nd and 10, Flacco finds Pitta who was able to get away from Scandrick who was giving up several inches to the talented tight end but there was separation. 1st and 10 from the Dallas 48, Flacco finds Boldin again for 13 yards while Brandon Carr is playing off coverage which gave Boldin all the room he needed. 1st and 10 from the Dallas 35, Flacco again in no huddle, finds Boldin against Carr this time in press coverage but slips, gain of 31 on the play. 1st and 9, Flacco finds fullback Leach in the flat and gains seven yards when he jumps over a low tackling Claiborne. Two plays later, Rice gets in from the one to give the Ravens a 31 to 23 lead. It was a killer drive from the stand point that if the Cowboys do get another three and out, the way they were running the ball, they could have potentially sealed the game but the touchdown put them in a hole on the scoreboard.