'D' needs to deliver

The Baltimore Sun

I can see the temptation in saying that the Ravens' offense is the key tomorrow night at Texas Stadium. After all, in two tough games at home, the defense held the Titans and Steelers to fewer than 14 points and yet the Ravens lost both.

But that's just the point. The Ravens were in both of those games down to the final one or two minutes (and actually were ahead) specifically because the defense did come up huge. And against Dallas tomorrow night, the defense has to do it again.

There might be a time down the road when the Ravens can put a big game on quarterback Joe Flacco's shoulders, and even now, occasionally the rookie can carry the team as he did in the comeback win against the Browns in Cleveland.

Against quality teams, though, the defense still has to dominate, and perhaps even score. Here's a stunning statistic: In eight of the Ravens' nine victories this season, the defense has directly contributed points with touchdowns or safeties.

The Cowboys, in particular, are not the type of team with which the Ravens want to start trading touchdowns. Nope, the Ravens win this game by trading punches (metaphorically speaking, of course). They need to bloody the Cowboys early and not let up until Dallas is demoralized.

In the losses to the Titans and Steelers at home, the Ravens' defense did everything it needed to do to win those games on its side of the ball alone - except for one thing: The Ravens' 'D' did it for all but the last one (Pittsburgh) or two (Tennessee) minutes of the game.

If the Ravens' defense can play its dominating style for the full 60 minutes, the team will leave Dallas with a win.

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