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News » No backing down Despite Ravens' 2 long runs, Cowboys don't rush to alter D

No backing down Despite Ravens' 2 long runs, Cowboys don't rush to alter D

No backing down Despite Ravens' 2 long runs, Cowboys don't rush to alter D
IRVING - The Cowboys refuse to let two long Ravens runs ruin everything they've built on defense. Still, those weren't two garden variety touchdowns.

Willis McGahee and 260-pound Le'Ron McClain blasted through the heart of the Cowboys defense on Saturday and scored on the longest back-to-back rushing plays in NFL history.

McGahee's 77-yard touchdown tied for the fourth-longest run allowed in Cowboys history. McClain's 82-yard scamper was the third-longest in franchise history and the longest ever at Texas Stadium.

Did McGahee and McClain also puncture a hole in the Cowboys' defensive psyche? Linebacker Anthony Spencer, among others, dismissed that idea. The Cowboys defense can prove it against Brian Westbrook and the Eagles on Sunday.

"I've never seen it happen before. But it happened," Spencer said. "We've just got to move on and concentrate on Philly right now.

"The stuff that we're doing is working. We just had a couple of breakdowns here and there. It wasn't broken, so we're definitely not going to try and fix anything."

Linebacker DeMarcus Ware said: "I still feel the same. I still feel confident. We still have the same guys playing."

Those two plays ruined another good performance by the run defense. Take out those two plays, and the Ravens averaged 3.1 yards per carry and had 106 rushing yards total. But those two plays - totaling 159 yards - count, too.

Because of two plays, the Cowboys fell to 13th in the NFL in run defense. Last week, they were tied for seventh. One positive is the Ravens had only 123 yards passing, which helped the Cowboys move up to fourth in pass defense.

Linebacker Greg Ellis said the coaches went over both plays at length during the defensive meetings.

"As well you should," Ellis said. "They obviously hurt us, and in a copycat league, other teams are going to try that. Philly is the next team. If they don't have that play in, you better believe they're going to give it a try at least one time."

Upon review, neither play was terribly difficult to figure out. The Ravens just executed both to perfection.

On McGahee's touchdown, Marcus Spears lined up at defensive tackle. He drew a double team and got pushed back. Guard Chris Chester then slipped off Spears to block Zach Thomas. McGahee blasted up the middle, the two safeties basically collided and he was gone.

Spencer was in position to stuff McClain for a short loss. Guard Ben Grubbs pulled from the left side, but Spencer beat Grubbs up the field.

"They said if I got a chance to beat it, just get up field and try to make the tackle," Spencer said. "That's basically what I did and missed the tackle."

Fullback Lorenzo Neal came through and blocked Bradie James. Ken Hamlin had one last shot, but he bounced off the burly McClain, who then took off for the end zone.

Up until the Ravens game, the longest run allowed this season was Steven Jackson's 56-yard touchdown run in St. Louis.

"I think you could try and analyze and look at things over and over again," defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said. "Basically, we didn't win that down. We can't let that happen, and we won't let that happen again."

Cowboys defense in 2008

The Good

Tampa Bay: After two straight losses, the Cowboys keep the Bucs out of the end zone in a 13-9 win.

At Washington: Cowboys stop a hobbled Clinton Portis, and Terence Newman blankets Santana Moss (5 rec., 29 yards)

The Bad

At Arizona: Kurt Warner's two TD passes force the Cowboys to scramble late just to get into overtime.

At St. Louis: After allowing 325 total yards, coach Wade Phillips becomes more involved in the play-calling.

The Ugly

At New York Giants: Brandon Jacobs rushes for 117 yards and Eli Manning throws three touchdown passes.

Baltimore: Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain score on two of the longest rushing plays in Cowboys history.

Two plays make big difference

Willis McGahee's 77-yard touchdown run (right) and Le'Ron McClain's 82-yard score sent the Cowboys plummeting in the NFL rankings.

Before the Ravens Category After the Ravens

7th (287.0 YPG) Total defense 8th (293.7 YPG)

T-7th (93.1 YPG) Run defense 13th (104.6 YPG)

8th (193.9 YPG) Pass defense 4th (189.1 YPG)

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 25, 2008

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