All about the offense

FACEOFF

Which Unit Needs To Step Up For The Ravens Vs. The Cowboys: Offense Or Defense?

December 19, 2008|By KEVIN ECK

Field goals weren't good enough to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they're not going to get it done against the Dallas Cowboys on the road tomorrow night, either.

Unless the Ravens' offense steps up, the defense might have to hold the Cowboys to 10 points or fewer for the Ravens to have a chance at pulling the upset and improving their playoff chances. The Ravens' defense is dominant, but on the rare occasions when it's not, the offense has not been able to pick up the slack. In the Ravens' three road losses - all to elite teams - they averaged just 11 points.

And make no mistake about it, despite having the same 9-5 record as the Ravens, the Cowboys are an elite team. As good as the Ravens' defense is, it's unrealistic to expect it to completely shut down a Dallas team that has more than its share of offensive weapons - and that's not even counting Terrell Owens' pie hole.

On Sunday, the Ravens' defense held the Steelers to two field goals for 59 minutes and 10 seconds, and it still wasn't good enough. It was eerily similar to the Ravens' loss to the Tennessee Titans earlier this season. You can criticize the unit for giving up long game-winning drives at the end of those games, but it never should have come down to that, especially in the Pittsburgh game.

The Ravens won the field-position battle against the Steelers, but the offense squandered several golden opportunities, including managing just a field goal on a drive that started at Pittsburgh's 16-yard line courtesy of yet another big play by the defense. I'm sure Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and company would appreciate it if the offense could return the favor by making a few big plays against Dallas.

Bottom line: For the Ravens to score a victory, the offense is going to have to score touchdowns.

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