BALTIMORE — Eight yards deep in the end zone when he caught the kickoff, Jacoby Jones had an instant to decide: take a knee or run.
He ran — all the way into the record book.
“You know when you get that itch? I wanted to scratch it,” Jones said. “So I took it.”
The Cowboys amassed 481 yards against a crippled Baltimore defense and held the ball for more than 40 minutes. Dallas totaled 227 yards rushing, the most against the Ravens since the franchise arrived in Baltimore in 1996.
It wasn’t enough. Jones‘ return put the Ravens (5-1) ahead 24-13 in the third quarter, and Dallas (2-3) never got even against a defense that lost cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (right knee) and Jimmy Smith (lower leg strain), along with middle linebacker Ray Lewis (triceps).
Webb could have an ACL tear, coach John Harbaugh said.
“They threw a lot of haymakers at us,” Harbaugh said. “Our guys stepped up at the end and found a way to win the game.”
After Dez Bryant scored on a 4-yard pass from Tony Romo with 32 seconds left to make it 31-29, the 2-point conversion pass zipped through the arms of the diving Bryant in the front left corner of the end zone.
Dallas recovered the onside kick, but Dan Bailey was wide left on a 51-yard field goal try with :06 remaining.
“I felt we fought really hard and well through a lot of different adversities in all three phases,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “(The Ravens) have been awfully good for a while. This team’s been awfully good in this place for a while. We gave them everything they could handle.”
Ray Rice scored two touchdowns and Joe Flacco threw for a score to help the Ravens secure their fourth consecutive victory and enhance their grip on first place in the AFC North. Baltimore’s home winning streak is the longest current run in the NFL.
Jones‘ return tied the mark set by Ellis Hobbs of New England in 2007 and tied in 2011 by Randall Cobb of Green Bay.
“To set the National Football League record for a kickoff return, in what was the difference in the game, is pretty special,” Harbaugh said.
The score was essential to the Ravens, who mustered only 1 yard on three offensive plays in the third quarter.