ARLINGTON, TEXAS — The Ravens believed they had devised a game plan that would give themselves a chance to go into AT&T Stadium and defeat the league-best Dallas Cowboys. For nearly a half, it appeared that might be the case.
But as it has done all season, the Cowboys' offense took over the game and wouldn't let the Ravens' top-ranked defense up for air. With the game tied at halftime, the Cowboys engineered two long scoring drives, both ending with rookie Dak Prescott hitting wide receiver Dez Bryant for touchdown passes.
The Ravens got a touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Steve Smith Sr. in the fourth quarter before falling 24-17 in front of an announced 93,056. Behind Prescott's three touchdown passes, the Cowboys (9-1) set a franchise record with their ninth straight victory.
Now 5-5, the Ravens fell into a first-place tie in the AFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers who beat the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
The Cowboys took control of the game on their first drive of the second half. They started on their own 8-yard line and marched effortlessly up the field on a combination of Prescott throws, Elliott runs and one big pass interference call on Ravens rookie cornerback Tavon Young.
The 10-play, 92-yard drive ate up nearly six minutes and ended when Prescott, who had ample time to sit in the pocket and make plays, found Bryant for a 4-yard touchdown pass. Bryant got inside position on cornerback Shareece Wright.
After a Ravens punt, Dallas started at its own 12-yard line and this time went 88 yards on 13 plays, milking nearly eight minutes off the clock. Prescott hit Bryant for a 13-yard score as the big wide receiver dragged the much-smaller Young in the end zone. That made it a 24-10 game.
Smith's touchdown gave the Ravens a chance, but the Cowboys put the game away with another long drive. Dan Bailey culminated a 13-play, 72-yard drive with a short field goal. The drive lasted 6 minutes, 26 seconds.
After punting on their first four drives, the Cowboys scored on their final five drives.
The first half played out as the Ravens hoped it would. The only thing that wasn't in their favor was the score as the two teams went into the locker room deadlocked at 10.
On offense, the Ravens were able to extend drives and not turn the ball over. They also established their own running game with three straight long runs on their second drive of the game. On defense, the Ravens were able to mostly contain the Cowboys' vaunted running game, holding the home team to 45 rushing yards in the first half. The Ravens also got to Prescott on occasion and forced some inaccurate throws.
Dallas didn't score any points in the first quarter for just the second time all season. They also punted on three straight possessions to start the game for the first time all year.
The Ravens got on the board first. After taking over on his own 10-yard line, Flacco hit Mike Wallace for 27 yards on a crossing route. The Ravens' run game did the rest. First, it was rookie Kenneth Dixon cutting back through the middle for a 20-yard gain. Then, Terrance West ran for 18 yards to get the Ravens in the red zone. West finished the drive with an 18-yard touchdown run on the very next play.
On the six-play, 90-yard drive, the Ravens ran the ball for 58 yards on four carries. Flacco was also 2-of-2 for 32 yards on one of the team's most impressive drives of the season.
The Ravens missed a few opportunities to extend the lead and the Cowboys finally made them pay. Following back-to-back penalties on the offensive line, Prescott led Dallas out of a first-and-30 hole. He scrambled for 12 yards, hit Dez Bryant for 10 and then found Brice Butler for 41 yards down the left sideline. Shareece Wright, getting the start with Jimmy Smith sidelined because of a back injury, had good coverage on Butler, but he didn't turn around and make a play on the ball.
On third-and-goal from the 3, Prescott hit Cole Beasley just inside the end zone for the game-tying touchdown.
Tied 7-7, the Ravens answered with Flacco hitting Wallace for 16 yards to cross midfield. Wallace fumbled on the play, but wide receiver Kamar Aiken made the alert recovery. Dixon then picked up a key third-and-short with a 5-yard run. The drive stalled, but Justin Tucker made a 46-yard field goal to give the Ravens a 10-7 lead.
The Ravens defense, which had played so well in the first half, couldn't stop the Cowboys in the two-minute drill. Prescott and Bryant, frequently working on Wright, connected for 16 and 26 yards, putting Dan Bailey in position for a 30-yard field goal that tied the game just before halftime.