Ray & Co. nearly playoff bound…

December 21, 2008 | Drew Forrester

Ray Lewis made another million bucks on Saturday night.

Joe Flacco made up for a first quarter blunder with a near perfect second half.

The Ravens made good on a shocking fake field goal attempt that changed the game.

And, Willis McGahee made his doubters become temporary believers with a 77-yard dash to the end zone.

It was all part of a wacky final game at Texas Stadium, as Baltimore produced the marquee win they’ve been looking for all year, knocking off the Cowboys, 33-24, and moving within one win of the AFC playoffs.

How’s Ray Lewis going to get home tonight?  Will he fly the team plane or just ride the Brinks truck back from “Big D”?  Lewis turned in another virtuoso performance on Saturday and just keeps making 2009 bank deposits with every hit, every tackle and every big game in which he steps up and proves why he’s the best defensive player of his generation.  

Joe Flacco rebounded from a disappointing effort in Baltimore last Sunday with a solid performance, easily outplaying embattled Cowboys’ QB Tony Romo, who was so ineffective throwing the ball in the first half the Orioles offered him the #4 spot in their starting rotation at halftime.  

Flacco also bounced back from a first quarter fumble when Adam Terry and Ben Grubbs got beat near the goal-line and DeMarcus Ware swatted the ball out of #5’s hands to set up the first Dallas TD not even four minutes into the game.  From that point forward, Flacco was unrattled and ended the night 17-of-25 with 1 TD and a 96% QB rating.  Dallas wishes Flacco played for them – and Romo didn’t.

Matt Stover returned home and booted four field goals, but it was the one he DIDN’T attempt that shook Texas Stadium.  Ahead 9-7 late in the third quarter, Stover trotted on for a 38-yard attempt but Baltimore pulled a fake and holder Sam Koch bolted ahead for 9 yards and a first down.  And when Flacco found Derrick Mason for a 12-yard TD in the corner of the end zone just moments later, you could sense Texas Stadium was going dark with a loss as its last memory.

In the 4th quarter, ahead 19-17, Willis McGahee broke off a 77-yard run through the heart of the Cowboys’ defensive line and Baltimore moved ahead by nine with 3:32 to play.  After a Dallas TD pass cut the lead to two points once again, it was Le’Ron McClain’s turn to do the long-distance damage, with a deja-vu scamper of 82 yards to close out the scoring at 33-24.  

What a night it was at Texas Stadium.

Baltimore now needs only to beat Jacksonville next Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium to secure the 6th seed in the AFC playoffs, where they will likely battle the AFC East champion on the road in the first round of the playoffs (Jan. 3-4)

It was a great night for a lot of people in Dallas.

Most of them were wearing purple.