Trivia Time: Print these out and use them as a conversation piece at a party in 2030.
Q: Who was the last team to win a game at Texas Stadium?
A: The Baltimore Ravens
Q: Who was the last quarterback to win in Texas Stadium?
A: JOOOOOOOOE FLACCOOOOOOOOO
Q: What 2 players hold the NFL record for longest running plays on consecutive offensive snaps?
A: Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain. McGahee went 77 yards for a touchdown, then McClain went 82 for the score on Baltimore’s next snap during their 33-26 win over the Cowboys in 2008.
Q: What visiting player had the longest run at Texas Stadium?
A: McClain, who did it on the final offensive play (besides kneel-downs) ever by an opposing team.
What a night in Dallas Saturday for the good guys, huh? Possibly the most exciting 4 minutes in Ravens regular season history, as those two huge runs deflated the soon to be demolished Texas Stadium not once but twice, over a span of about 10 minutes real-time. Entering the 4th quarter with a 16-7 lead that seemed bigger than it was with the way the Ravens’ D had shut down Dallas all night, the purple-and-black did what they were unable to do at home a week ago and finished the game strong. The Cowboys finally came to life in the final period, putting up 17 points on 2 70-yard touchdown drives, after they had, to that point in the game, needed a fumble recovery on the Ravens’ 4-yard line to even sniff a score (since its Dallas, maybe we should say “snort” a score?)
Before we go any further, let’s talk about Derrick Mason for a minute. Holy Shnikeys. That guy gets a “Purple” heart for his performance in the Dallas game (and please…don’t accuse me of disrespecting those that earn true Purple Hearts – I said “purple” in quotes for a reason. It works on a couple levels. Deal with it.) Mason, who re-injured his dislocated shoulder on his first catch, spent the rest of the game showing TO what a real NFL wide receiver looks like. Derrick left the field on two separate occasions following later catches, in obvious pain, only to return and make huge grabs to keep the chains moving and the scoreboard turning. He got shot up with some pain killers, rubbed some dirt on his near-lifeless limb, and ran all over Texas Stadium with one arm. He literally made one catch across the middle with one arm. After his touchdown that gave the Ravens their crucial 9-point lead, he could barely do his trademark Michael Jackson dance. This is a guy that knows his career is winding down, and is leaving every drop of blood and sweat he has on the field trying to get himself a ring. Derrick Mason should get the loudest cheers from the Ravens faithful when the team comes out on Sunday against the Jags.
Joe Flacco, after two sub-par performances against Washington and Pittsburgh, redeemed himself in a big way. His numbers were not gaudy (17/25 149 1 TD), but he hung in there and made some incredible throws, holding the ball until the last possible second in the face of a vicious Dallas pass-rush that sacked him 5 times in the first half. He could have crumbled after that early fumble in a hostile environment. But, as he continues to show, there is no rattling Joe Cool. He didn’t have to do much at the end to help the team seal the win, not with McGahee and McClain running wild, but we’re pretty confident he could have kept the chains moving had the need presented itself. He also had a 14-yard first down run on a sweet fake draw call by Cam Cameron.
Speaking of good coaching, how about that gem by John Harbaugh and Ravens’ special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg? After seeing Dallas nearly get a hand on their first 3 field goal attempts by overloading the right side of the line, Rosburg/Harbaugh gave holder Sam Koch the freedom to audible to the fake, should the ‘Boys get tricky again. Well, Koch saw what he liked and the former high school fullback sprinted 9 yards for the first down that allowed the aforementioned TD pass to Mason to transpire. It would have been great to see Sammy, who has been an important weapon for the Ravens all year, get into the end zone (when is the last time a punter scored a TD, we wonder?), but it was still a great play call and great execution. Kudos to you, Sam Koch, for the run as well as for your 55+ yard punting average on the night. You should be going to Hawaii.
Finally, we’d like to thank the actual football, for not allowing itself to come to rest in the arms of anybody not wearing purple after Le’Ron McClain had another silly fumble on the fake field goal-TD drive (priority #1 for Le’Run this offseason: ball security). Ken Hamlin got his hands on it, but pretty much THREW it right to the one-armed man, Derrick Mason. Thanks for the early Xmas present, Dallas defense.
Also, thanks to Tony Romo, who was definitely in the giving spirit. His high, floating Hail Marys that Fast Eddie Reed was all too happy to scoop up (Reed is now tied for the league lead in INTs with Michael Griffin and Troy Boy), along with his overthrowing Miles Austin and TO on separate likely touchdowns, played a big part in the win (or loss, if you prefer blue to purple) as well.
One of the impressive things about the Ravens this year is that they have been winning without those lucky bounces being needed (as they were time and again in 2006). This one in particular though, couldn’t have come at a better time.
With the win, the Ravens kept control of their own playoff destiny. A win against the 5-10 Jacksonville Jaguars, a game in which they are TWELVE (!?) point favorites, will secure the Ravens the final AFC Wild Card spot. All of this makes for a very happy holiday week here in Charm City. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays, from the Ravens and from B’More Birds’ Nest.