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News » Cowboys, Ravens ready for hole-in-the-roof finale

Cowboys, Ravens ready for hole-in-the-roof finale

Cowboys, Ravens ready for hole-in-the-roof finale
IRVING, Texas (AP) - In the 38-season history of Texas Stadium, only two NFL teams have never lost there: the Oakland-Los Angeles Raiders and the Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens, however, carry an asterisk - they have yet to play under the hole in the roof.

Better late than never, that will change Saturday night when Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco and the Ravens have the dubious honor of being the Dallas Cowboys' final foe at their landmark stadium.

"I'd just call it another arena, but it is a great place of tradition," Lewis said. "I look forward to it."

With both teams 9-5 and fighting for wild-card berths into the playoffs, the importance of this game to both teams can't be understated.

Yet, to the average fan, this being the 313th and final game at this place is pretty special, too.

"I know the fans will be excited, I know the players are excited," quarterback Tony Romo said. "We'd like to send it out on the right note."

In fact, the game is merely the opening act for Saturday night's farewell show.

Soon after players head to the locker rooms, a postgame ceremony will commence featuring some of the guys who turned the Cowboys into "America's Team" and evoked the notion the roof was left open so God could watch his team play.

Although the exact guest list is being kept secret, expect Roger Staubach, Bob Lilly, Tony Dorsett, Randy White, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin to be among the headliners. Probably Deion Sanders, too, since he'll be analyzing the game for the NFL Network. (Programming note for Cowboys lovers - or haters - who get the NFL Network: Cowboys-oriented programming will run from 6 a.m. EST all the way to kickoff.)

During the postgame ceremony, roughly 100 former Cowboys players and coaches who spent at least five years at Texas Stadium will make one last stroll across the midfield star. Current players are expected to take part, too. And it only seems logical that the team's world-famous cheerleaders also will be involved.

As for the game itself, Dallas comes in on a 4-1 roll since Romo returned from a broken pinkie on his passing hand. The only loss was in the final minutes of a tight game in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers bashed Romo pretty good that day and the New York Giants nearly finished him off Sunday night. He went down wincing with a back injury late in the first quarter and probably will still be feeling it when Ray Lewis and the hard-hitting Ravens take the field.

Fans ache just thinking about that.

"He has a lot of playmakers on his side of the ball, so (we can't) let him sit back there and pick and choose," Lewis said. "People that have had success against him have really made him not sit back there comfortable."

Dallas' collection of playmakers seemingly got along just fine this week, unlike their turmoil-filled week leading up to the Giants game. T.O. acknowledged that a win makes all the difference, an indication that tempers could flare again with a loss.

Baltimore is coming off a late, tough loss in Pittsburgh that was even tougher to overcome because of a controversial ruling on the Steelers' winning touchdown. As much as the Ravens insist that play is behind them, they're going to need a strong showing against the Cowboys to prove it.

That won't be easy. Dallas' defense is playing on par with Pittsburgh's and Baltimore's.

The Cowboys lead the league in sacks, with DeMarcus Ware four away from setting the NFL single-season record. The unit has held teams without a touchdown three times this season, and the Ravens offense is coming off a touchdown-less game of its own.

"Our line has done a great job all year of stopping anybody's pressure," said Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, who averages a sack every 15 attempts. "I'm going to trust that they are going to do another great job this week."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 19, 2008

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