Irving, Texas — Irving, Texas - The Ravens have used a three-player rotation at running back this season. They might have found a fourth.
At least that's what coach John Harbaugh implied after Sam Koch took off for 9 yards on a fake field goal that led to the offense's first touchdown and a nine-point lead in an eventual 33-24 win over the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium on Saturday night.
From a field-goal formation on fourth-and-six at the Cowboys' 22-yard line in the third quarter, Koch, as the holder, took the snap from Matt Katula and carried the ball off left tackle.
The gain was good for a first down, and two plays later, rookie quarterback Joe Flacco found wide receiver Derrick Mason for a 13-yard touchdown and a 16-7 advantage.
"[Special teams coordinator] Jerry Rosburg and the special teams may have [provided] the play of the game," said Harbaugh, who spent nine seasons as the special teams coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles. "The fake field goal - and we've been working that fake all along, Jerry's got that thing, and it's one of the best schemes I've ever seen - our guys executed perfectly, and our other running back, Sam Koch, got the key first down there."
Said Dallas coach Wade Phillips, "That fake field [goal] was really a big play in the game that hurt us."
The Cowboys certainly aided the Ravens on that play by lining up eight men on the right side of the offensive line, which allowed Jason Brown and Chris Chester to open the hole to the left for Koch.
"If you saw the hole I went to, you're definitely thinking touchdown," Koch told the team's Web site, baltimoreravens.com. "Unfortunately, there was someone there."
Koch was even better with his primary responsibility, averaging 52.2 yards on five punts and placing two punts inside the 20 - which gives him 33 punts inside the opponents' 20 this season.
Koch said he will likely stick with punting the football rather than running it.
"It's been a long time since I ran the football," he said. "I played fullback in high school, but you lose the vision it takes to do what [Willis] McGahee and Le'Ron [McClain] have to do. ... It takes a lot of talent to do that, and obviously mine isn't there."
Gutting it out
Mason and offensive tackle Willie Anderson gritted through injuries and played in the second half of Saturday's game. Mason aggravated his dislocated left shoulder and trapezoid after catching a 9-yard pass in the first quarter.
Anderson's left ankle absorbed the brunt of a blindside collision when Dallas strong safety Keith Davis dived low to tackle McClain after a 1-yard gain late in the first quarter.
Cornerback Samari Rolle did not play in the second half because of a sprained foot. He was replaced by Frank Walker.
A hunted man in the first half, Flacco was relatively untouched in the second half.
The Cowboys added to their NFL-leading sack total this season when they got Flacco down five times in the first half. The five sacks matched a season high surrendered by the Ravens in Week 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But coaches altered the pass-blocking schemes, and Flacco did not get sacked again in the game.
"We just buckled up and made some adjustments at halftime," left tackle Jared Gaither said. "We made some improvements, focused in, and got the job done."
The team dedicated Saturday night's victory to director of player development O.J. Brigance, who attended his second road game of the season despite his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. "We dedicated it to O.J. Brigance because of the things that O.J. Brigance talked to our football team about last summer when we started training camp on the very first day," Harbaugh said. "And we told them no matter what your condition, no matter what your circumstance, no matter what hardship you face in life or football, you overcome it. And that's what our football team did." ... If McClain rushes for 168 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, fullback Lorenzo Neal would earn the distinction of being a lead blocker for 12 straight 1,000-yard rushers. ... The Ravens became the first team in NFL history to record 10 wins in a season with a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback. ... Dallas rookie running back Tashard Choice carried the ball 17 times for 90 yards, which was the second-most allowed to a player by the Ravens' defense this season.