The Dallas Cowboys are 8-1, but they have never beaten their next opponent. Ever.
“Is that true? How many games have there been?” Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh asked reporters Monday.
The Ravens are 4-0 all time against the Cowboys, the only team winless against Baltimore’s newest NFL franchise. And the Ravens are one of only four teams to have a winning record over the Cowboys.
“That is great,” Harbaugh said. “Does that count in this year’s standings? Does that help us in any way? No. So we need to be 1-0 against them this year. That is the goal: 1-0 against them this year.”
The Ravens become the first division leader the Cowboys have played this season. After winning its first three games, Baltimore went on a four-game losing streak, which included losses to NFC East teams the Washington Redskins and New York Giants. They rebounded with back-to-back victories over the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns to climb atop the AFC North standings.
“That is something that is really important to us,” Harbaugh said. “We look at it that way. Whether it is in the game or whether it is in the season, you want to get the lead. When you get the lead, you want to keep the lead. When you keep the lead, you want to extend the lead. That is what we aim to do.”
The Ravens’ offensive line has started six combinations in nine games. Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda has missed three of the past four games with a shoulder injury. Rookie left guard Alex Lewis injured his right ankle that necessitated him leaving in a cart in the third quarter Sunday. Lewis has a high-ankle sprain that will keep him out four to six weeks. Rookie first-round pick left tackle Ronnie Stanley returned to the lineup two games ago after missing four weeks with a foot injury.
The Ravens rank first in total defense, including first in rushing defense. They are allowing only 3.3 yards per rush, 71.3 rushing yards per game and 281.6 total yards per game.
Only three teams have more than Baltimore’s 17 takeaways, which is three more than the Ravens had all of last season.
In short, the Ravens’ defense has a look that some of its previous defenses had with Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. The names other than Terrell Suggs, though, aren’t so familiar with Tavon Young, Michael Pierce, Timmy Jernigan and C.J. Mosley leading the way.
Suggs, despite playing with a torn biceps, has six sacks and a forced fumble.
The Ravens rank 25th in total offense (333 yards per game), even though they haven’t played a defense ranked in the top 10. But they hope they found something last week by going to the hurry-up against the Browns.
Despite their struggles, the Ravens have a veteran receiving corps capable of scaring offensive coordinators. Tight end Dennis Pitta has 46 catches for 375 yards, receiver Mike Wallace 43 catches for 673 yards and four touchdowns and receiver Steve Smith Sr. 36 catches for 417 yards and two touchdowns.