ARLINGTON – Last Monday I offered some pre-game “FishTips’’ as your guide for the Ravens-at-Cowboys match-up. Now, in review of Dallas 27, Baltimore 17 … How’d I do?
FISHTIP 1: I said Dez Bryant was working through the emotions of the passing of his father and that dealing with the loss included Dez’ Saturday attendance at the Saturday funeral in Lufkin. But physically? Despite appearing on the pregame injury report — “back’’ — Bryant told me it was a “take-an-aspirin’’ sort of issue.
RESULT: “I was no big deal,’’ Dez told me after a win in which he totaled six catches for 80 yards and two TDs, but refused to bask in credit over the big numbers. “We’re for one another. That’s it.’’
FISHTIP 2: I said that Ezekiel Elliott would face his truest test of the year in Baltimore’s best-in-the-NFL run defense, but that Dallas would stick with its run-first gameplan almost no matter what. … because no offense to terrific rookie QB Dak Prescott, but it’s the other terrific rookie that really makes this offense go.
RESULT: Zeke totaled 97 yards on 25 carries, and added five receptions for 30 more yards … but Dak was a part of it all, patiently overcoming a lethargic start to this noon game by eventually racking up 301 passing yards on 2-of-36 passing and three TDs. Dallas’ yardage total exceeded an impressive 400 yards again, and owned almost 36 minutes of time of possession. In short, this is a balanced offensive machine.
FISHTIP 3: I said Baltimore’s offense isn’t good enough to sustain drives, but might be able to take advantage of a Dallas defense that’s short-handed on the backend if the Ravens can get yardage in chunks.
RESULT: That truly is how Baltimore stayed in this game for a time. Three different ballcarriers gained at last 13 yards on a carry. Six different receivers caught passes for 11 yards or more. But the Dallas dam never broke.
FISHTIP 4: I said the “white-noise’’ stories that created “stirs” outside the locker room, simply do not impact the players inside the room. The focus, the leadership and the vibe is simply too strong.
RESULT: I reported on Monday on 105.3 The Fan that Rolando McClain wasn’t coming back to due a “stacked’’ drug suspension. The fact that it got reported by ESPN on Sunday is no “distraction’’ to this team, as you figure if I knew it a week ago, so did they. The “What’s Tony’s Future?’’ story is a legit one, but it was handled beautifully by Romo on Tuesday in a speech that impressed his teammates. The fact it is being “re-reported’’ every day now is immaterial to this locker room.
“The focus, the leadership and the vibe is simply too strong.’’ I stand by these words. They don’t guarantee success — but teams that start 9-1 make the NFL playoffs 100 percent of the time. So “success’’ seems pretty likely.
FISHTIP 5: I said that there is something uncanny about Dallas’ historical success in the game before Thanksgiving. The Cowboys’ all-time record in this circumstance is 32-16. More impressive: Dallas, coming in, had won 11 straight pre-Turkey Day games.
RESULT: Make it 33-16. Make is 12 straight pre-Turkey wins. Make it nine consecutive wins for the Cowboys, which is an in-season all-time franchise record. Prescott noted that he’s never played a game on a Sunday followed by a Thursday (of course). But the rookie — who as the heir to Romo figures to play a bunch of ‘em in the future, now hurries to prepare for the Redskins here at AT&T Stadium on Thursday. “It’s going to be fun,’’ said Dak … and that’s a prediction that might just come true, too.