BALTIMORE – For the third time this season, the Cowboys committed 13 penalties. For the first time this season, those penalties were too great to overcome.
Ten of the Cowboys' 13 penalties occurred on offense. Eight of the 10 penalties happened in Baltimore territory and five penalties directly halted drives for the Cowboys.
Dallas committed five offensive penalties inside Baltimore's 30-yard line, including three in the red zone on three different drives.
"It killed us, man. It killed us," said tight end Jason Witten. "We've got to eliminate it, that's been the saying all along. But you've got to find ways to do it. We work it in practice, you do all those things, but you keep putting yourself out of there, it's just too hard to overcome."
The Cowboys settled for four field goal attempts, the last of which sailed wide left to end the game. Meanwhile, the Ravens scored touchdowns almost every time they reached the red zone, kicking just one field goal and winning by two points.
Felix Jones scored on the Cowboys' first drive of the game, despite a holding penalty on tackle Doug Free at the Ravens' 12-yard line. Dallas never scored a touchdown after a penalty inside the red zone the rest of the day.
"This is a tough environment in Baltimore," said quarterback Tony Romo. "It's a loud place to play. When there's that kind of noise, it makes it harder to take care of the little things."
Penalties were a problem in the opener against the Giants, yet the Cowboys escaped with a win. After fixing the penalties against Seattle, they popped up again against Tampa Bay, and again, the Cowboys managed to win.
The Cowboys have committed 13 penalties every other week to start the season. When the penalties get cured, a week later they pop up again. Eventually, the errors caught up with them.
In the second quarter, an illegal shift in the red zone on wide receiver Kevin Ogletree put the Cowboys in a third-and-long, eventually forcing them to kick a field goal after a pass that went for a loss of seven yards. Even on the completion, another illegal shift was called and declined.
"Obviously, you don't want the pre-snap penalties, and we'll continue to try and make different points of emphasis to it," Garrett said. "At the end of the day, you have to be able to stay onsides, you have to be able to not shift when you're not supposed to shift, and some of those things that happened. The environment is difficult. This is a hard place to play – it's loud. That certainly is a factor. But, we just have to make sure we eliminate them."
The Cowboys again reached Baltimore territory later in the second quarter, when tackle Tyron Smith got caught for holding to push the offense into a second-and-15. Quarterback Tony Romo was forced to throw, and after an incomplete pass, he tossed his only interception of the day.
The problems persisted in the second half. Dallas was driving in the third quarter to the Baltimore 31-yard line when Free committed a false start, and the Cowboys would eventually settle for a field goal. An illegal shift at the Baltimore 10-yard line in the fourth quarter led to Bailey's third and final made field goal of the day.
"There were a number of different penalties that we had to overcome throughout the ballgame, and I was really proud of our football team," Garrett said. "I thought fought really, really hard and well throughout a lot of adversities."