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BAL 34, DAL 17: Cowboys Defense, Dez Bryant Both Missing as Ravens Roll

Dez Bryant was held out of tonight’s game between the Cowboys and Ravens after testing positive for COVID-19 within an hour of kickoff. The rest of the evening went about as expected though as Baltimore outclassed Dallas, particularly its defense, in a 34-17 victory.

The Cowboys dropped to 3-9 on the year and its bottom-ranked run defense reinforced that position, giving up 294 yards on the ground. They were giving up a league-worst 156.4 yards per game coming into Week 13.

Gus Edwards led the Baltimore rushing rampage with 101 yards on just seven carries. QB Lamar Jackson wasn’t far behind with 94 yards, part of which came form a 37-yard touchdown run in the first half.

The Cowboys offense wasn’t bad in its own right. Andy Dalton threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns and Ezekiel Elliott had 77 rushing yards on 18 carries. But they couldn’t finish drives and kept calling on Greg Zuerlein, which proved problematic tonight.

Zuerlein, who’s had a strong year overall, went 1-of-4 on field goals to help the Cowboys’ losing effort. Greg was 21-of-24 coming into the game.

The Cowboys playing poorly is no surprise in 2020. Many will likely be more disappointed by Dez Bryant’s absence, having looked forward to seeing him on the field again in his first game against Dallas.

Upset by tonight’s happenings, Bryant quickly took to social media and said he was going to “call it a quit” for this season.

The Cowboys may want to follow his lead.

Dallas’ loss comes in the same week that New York and Washington pulled off road upsets and improved to 5-7 records. The Cowboys are now three games back of the Football Team thanks to Washington’s head-to-head tiebreaker, and with only four games left the chances of catching up just became very slim.

Other Notes

  • Darian Thompson had an interception off a tipped pass in his return to the starting lineup. Thompson was back with the first team as Donovan Wilson sat out with a groin injury.
  • While quite on offense tonight, Tony Pollard had a 66-yard kickoff return to help set up Andy Dalton’s touchdown pass to Michael Gallup.
  • Gallup led all Dallas receivers tonight with seven catches for 86 yards. Amari Cooper caught the only other touchdown of the night for the Cowboys, which came in garbage time.
  • Dallas failed to register any sacks or even hits on Lamar Jackson tonight. It might have gone better if the Ravens had been forced to go to the air more, but the porous run defense allowed Jackson to only attempt 17 passes.
  • Tonight felt like a potential death blow for Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan’s time with the Cowboys. The team looked lost in all facets of defense. Even if Nolan is kept through the end of the year, it’s hard to imagine Dallas retaining him after this season.

What do you think?

Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


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  1. Earth to Cowboys///… The # 1 pick of the 2021 draft MUST be the very best run stuffer DT in the draft! Not 2nd round, not 3rd round. As I have said many times before.. If you cant stop the run you cant win the game. Second round pick goes to a Strong safety!!
    The Cowboys are last in the league at run defense.

  2. There’s no DT worth taking even in the top half of the draft!! And even if there were, our first pick needs to be a corner, not a DT!! Our corners are the worst in the league and it’s probably the worst part of our defense!! And then we go safety or OT in the 2nd round and then pick the other of safety or DT in the 3rd round, and then get a DT with the other 3rd rounder we’re getting!! That’s what we need to do!! Especially considering we’ll only have Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown on the roster next year as our corners, and that’s it!! And Diggs is really the only one worth starting!! So yeah, corner is a much bigger need than DT as a matter of fact, safety and OT are bigger needs too!!

  3. Mike Nolan absolutely needs to go. He has failed in all areas as a coach here it appears. No ability to communicate, evaluate, educate, motivate or adapt his defense to fit his personnel. Wondering about Mike McCarthy as well. How do you sit on the side lines with three time outs and just watch the clock tic away while you are lining up for a field goal? A lot of decisions he has made and gaffs like time management remind me of Garrett mistakes. Neither men seem capable of infusing this team with any kind of attitude.

  4. I agree Mike Nolan has to go. He is the absolute worst defensive coordinator Ive ever seen at the professional level. For some reason, they are not coached to plug the gaps. Also, a 4 3 defense has always worked better in Dallas.

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