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News » RAVENS 33, COWBOYS 24 2008-12-24


RAVENS 33, COWBOYS 24 2008-12-24


RAVENS 33, COWBOYS 24 2008-12-24
IRVING - Turn out the lights, the misery is over.


Instead of delivering an inspiring victory that would have inched them closer to a playoff berth, the Dallas Cowboys closed historic Texas Stadium with yet another December disappointment, losing 33-24 to the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday night after giving up two long touchdown runs in the final 3:32.

The back-breaking scores - a 77-yard jaunt by Willis McGahee and an 82-yard sprint by Le'Ron McClain - were the two longest runs by an opponent at Texas Stadium and offset a pair of Tony Romo scoring passes in the final 3:50.

"I've never seen anything like that at the end of the game," a dejected Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said in a hoarse voice.

"We kept fighting back," Phillips added, "but to have two long runs ..? you don't normally give up a long run. We had two run blitzes on, and on both of them they hit us for touchdowns. It's hard to explain."

The loss was the second for Dallas (9-6) in three weeks. The Cowboys travel to Philadelphia (8-5-1) next Sunday for the regular-season finale needing a victory and some help to gain a wild-card berth. Had they beaten Baltimore, they could have clinched a playoff berth today with some help.

The Cowboys are 18-30 in December since 1996, including 1-2 this season.

"We have to come back and try to win 10 games this next week," Phillips said. "If 10 is good enough, it is. If 10 isn't, then ..? We had control of our own destiny; now we don't. It's unfortunate. The only good thing about it is that it was an AFC team."

The game ended in surreal fashion and not just because of Baltimore's back-breaking TD runs. When the Cowboys reached their locker room afterward, they found all of the legends on hand for the post-game "Farewell to Texas Stadium Ceremony" gathered just outside their locker room.

Legends on hand

The former players, including several Hall of Famers, were all smiles while sharing stories of past glory. A few of the current players stopped to say hello - Jason Witten shook hands with Lee Roy Jordan - but for the most part they just shuffled into the locker room with their heads down.

"This team can't get it right," legendary running back Emmitt Smith said. "I don't know what it is."

The Cowboys move into their new $1.3-billion stadium in Arlington next season with a 213-100 record, including playoffs, at Texas Stadium. In regular-season games, Dallas went 198-94 at Texas Stadium.

Matt Stover kicked field goals of 26, 29, 37 and 35 for the AFC wild-card hopeful Ravens (10-6).

Baltimore drove 37 yards in seven plays for a 13-yard TD pass from Joe Flacco to Derrick Mason to take a 16-7 lead with 2:51 left in the third quarter.

A 23-yard punt return by Jim Leonhard set up the drive, which included a 9-yard run by holder Sam Koch - the punter - on a fake field goal. It was fourth-and-6 at the 22 when the Ravens lined up for a 40-yard field goal only to have Koch run off left tackle for the first down.

Two plays later, Flacco found Mason alone in the end zone for the TD.

The Cowboys had a chance to end the drive early, but Ken Hamlin failed to recover a McClain fumble.

Late chances

Despite all of that, the Cowboys had a chance to pull out a miracle comeback after they pulled within 19-17 on a 7-yard TD pass from Romo to Terrell Owens. But on Baltimore's next play from scrimmage, McGahee burst through the middle past Greg Ellis and Ken Hamlin for the longest TD run of his career.

The play took 18 seconds, the same amount of time it took McClain to score on the longest run of his career 2:14 later. McClain's run came on the first play from scrimmage after Romo's 21-yard TD pass to Jason Witten with 1:36 left.

"We had every gap filled, but we missed the tackle," Phillips said. "I think on both of them we missed tackles. We did some run blitzes throughout the game and hit them in the backfield. I've never seen that happen in a ball game. Two runs like that that really crushed us."



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 24, 2008

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