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News » Cowboys Game Day


Cowboys Game Day


Cowboys Game Day
Baltimore (9-5) at Cowboys (9-5): 7:15 p.m. today


TV: Ch. 33, NFL Network; Radio: KTCK-AM (1310), KDBN-FM (93.3), KTDK-FM (104.1), KFLC-AM

(1270 in Spanish), KFZO-FM (99.1 in Spanish); Line: Cowboys by 4

The Cowboys will win if ...

The players worry about the Ravens and let the fans worry about this being the final game at Texas Stadium. Dozens of former Cowboys are expected to return for what should be a huge postgame ceremony. But Tony Romo and DeMarcus Ware need to worry about Ray Lewis and JOE FLACCO. Remember, the playoffs are still up for grabs.

The Ravens will win if ...

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron devises a game plan that exploits the Cowboys' banged-up secondary. The Ravens probably won't get much on the ground, but they scored a combined 60 points in victories over Philadelphia and Washington. Then they lost to the Steelers last week on a controversial goal-line play. The Ravens are fighting for a playoff spot, too.

KEY MATCHUP

Cowboys C Andre Gurode

vs. Ravens LB Ray Lewis

It's fascinating to hear other players talk about Lewis, arguably one of the toughest and smartest defensive players in Football.

Gurode called Lewis a "student of the game." Lewis likes to watch film for subtleties about every opponent, things that wouldn't be noticeable to the fan in the stands. That's how he became a two-time NFL defensive player of the year and Super Bowl XXXV MVP.

"If he's studying, then you have to study," said Gurode, who earned his third trip to the Pro Bowl this week. "You have to study what he does and what he likes to do. Even though we're not as fast as Ray, we have to beat him to the spot at certain points and time."

Gurode probably will be uncovered for most of the game against the Ravens' 3-4 defensive scheme. He'll help guards Cory Procter and Leonard Davis at times, but Gurode must also get to Lewis when possible.

The Cowboys like to run straight up the middle, mostly because Marion Barber is a straight-ahead runner. The offense is averaging almost 4 yards per carry up the middle. Tashard Choice likes to dart and move into the open field.

"You can't get drawn into matching him emotionally," Gurode said. "I think the only thing you can focus on is making sure you're taking care of your business."

EDGE: Lewis

HOW THEY MATCH UP

When the Cowboys run

The Steelers had the No. 1-ranked run defense, and Tashard Choice had 88 yards. The Giants were fifth in run defense, and Choice had 91 yards. The Ravens rank third. No Marion Barber? No problem as long as Jason Garrett calls Choice's number.

When the Cowboys pass

If any Cowboys players were having secret meetings this week, they remained a secret. All the talk this week focused on Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs. Those two are a big reason why the Ravens have the second-best pass defense in the league.

When the Ravens run

Expect a stellar effort from Bradie James. The Cowboys linebacker is having a career year but was snubbed for the Pro Bowl. The Cowboys aren't letting anybody get much of anything on the ground. The run defense has been the key to everything.

When the Ravens pass

There should be a healthy number of Mark Clayton fans in the building. The Arlington Sam Houston and Oklahoma graduate has carved out a nice NFL career. One big problem: Keith Davis and Ken Hamlin are hobbling in the Cowboys secondary.

Special teams

Safety/special teams ace Keith Davis won the Ed Block Courage Award this week for playing through pain the last two seasons. His toughness helped turn the special teams around. Miles Austin will return kicks; Adam Jones will be his backup.

Intangibles

The Cowboys have the No. 5 seed in the playoff race. They can't afford a misstep. But they don't want to lose the last game at Texas Stadium. It should be a fun one, especially with Ray Lewis in town. But this is the Cowboys' day.

LINEUP TWIST

Ravens left tackle has tough assignment

This wasn't the best week for Ravens left tackle Jared Gaither to miss practice. He's battled a shoulder injury the last few weeks and missed practice Wednesday with the flu. Gaither, a supplemental fifth-round pick in 2007, will have his hands full today trying to stop DeMarcus Ware. Ware is closing in on the NFL sack record set by Michael Strahan in 2001. Strahan had 221/2 sacks that season. Ware has 19 sacks.

If Gaither is limited, Adam Terry is listed as the backup tackle. Terry has started off and on during his four-year career.

If Ware could come close to the record in the final game at Texas Stadium, it would definitely be memorable. "I'm taking it one game at a time, to tell you the truth," Ware said. "It's all about wins at the end of the day, and I try to do what I need to do to contribute to the team."



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 21, 2008

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Chris Chester Name: Chris Chester
#65
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