Cowboys vs. Falcons: Live Game Grades and Player Analysis for Atlanta
The Atlanta Falcons got another signature primetime win against the Dallas Cowboys. Despite the Cowboys keeping it close for most of the game, the Falcons pulled away in the fourth quarter and never looked back.
In a game when Matt Ryan and the passing offense couldn't punch it in, Michael Turner had a beastly game with over five yards per carry and a touchdown. The Cowboys scored their only touchdown with five minutes left in the game and it proved to be too little, too late as the Falcons pulled this one out 19-13.
Dan Bailey hits a 23-yard field goal after a six play, 27-yard drive by the Cowboys. Cowboys 3, Falcons 0 with 10:46 left in the first.
Dan Bailey hits a 31-yard field goal after a seven play, 59-yard drive by the Cowboys. Cowboys 6, Falcons 0 with 3:42 left in the first.
Matt Bryant hits a 45-yard field goal after an eight play, 46-yard drive by the Falcons. Cowboys 6, Falcons 3 with 14:19 left in the second.
Matt Bryant hits a 47-yard field goal after a six play, 60-yard drive by the Falcons. Cowboys 6, Falcons 6 at halftime.
Michael Turner ran it four yards into the end zone for the first touchdown of the game. The Falcons had a six play, 81 yard drive. Cowboys 6, Falcons 13 with 14:16 left in the game.
Matt Bryant hits a 36-yard field goal after a nine play, 69-yard drive by the Falcons. Cowboys 6, Falcons 16 with 7:49 left in the game.
Tony Romo hit Kevin Ogletree for the 20-yard touchdown pass after a six play, 78-yard drive by the Cowboys. Cowboys 13, Falcons 16 with 5:21 left in the game.
Matt Bryant hits a 32-yard field goal after a 12 play, 66-yard drive by the Falcons. Cowboys 13, Falcons 19 with 0:17 left in the game.
Ryan finished 24-for-34 (70.5 percent) for 346 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and an eight yard run. Ryan was efficient, but not being able to throw for a touchdown today against the weak Cowboys defense was an anomaly for him.
Ryan went 2-for-2 for 23 yards on the scoring drive before letting Michael Turner take the reigns. On the second drive, Ryan went 3-for-4 for 51 yards and set up a field goal kick to make it a two possession game. On the final drive, Ryan went 3-for-5 for 46 yards and set up a field goal to make it a six point game.
On the first drive, Ryan went 4-for-6 for 66 yards and set up a 43-yard field goal for Matt Bryant to kick and take the lead. Ryan was 1-for-1 during the third quarter on the second drive for 15 yards on a pass to Roddy White. He was nothing but efficient in the third quarter.
Matt Ryan capped off his third drive going 4-for-4 for 45 yards and a field goal scoring drive. Ryan had a scary play fumbling the ball on a sack, but Roddy White bailed him out and recovered it. On the second drive, he went 2-for-3 for 10 yards, but the Falcons couldn't get a score.
On the drive right before the half ended, Ryan went 3-for-4 for 47 yards and also had a run for eight yards to lead the team to a game tying drive. Ryan finished the half 11-for-16 (68.8 percent) for 150 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.
Matt Ryan went 0-for-2 on the first drive with both passes dropped due to good defensive hits on the receivers. He went 2-for-3 on the second drive for 48 yards, but couldn't get the Falcons into the endzone despite having the momentum on the drive. Ryan finished the quarter 5-for-8 for 91 yards and driving on Dallas' side of the field.
The offense was able to move the ball efficiently and effectively all night. They just couldn't close the deal on all but one of their drives. Michael Turner was the most effective Falcon of the night gaining 102 yards on his 20 carries and scoring the Falcons only touchdown.
Roddy White and Julio Jones were also excellent in the passing game gaining over 100 yards each. Tony Gonzalez had four catches tonight to put himself as just one of two players to have 15 straight years of over 50 catches—the other being Jerry Rice.
The quarter started with the Falcons having the ball in a second-and-seven situation from the Cowboys 11-yard line. Matt Ryan hit Roddy White for a seven-yard gain to set up a first-and-goal from the three-yard line. On first-and-goal, Michael Turner scored the first touchdown of the night on a blast-play through the B-gap.
The Falcons start on their own 19-yard line again on their second drive in the fourth quarter. Ryan hit Jason Snelling for a short screen for a loss of yardage to start it off. Then on second down, Ryan hit Julio Jones for a 48-yard completion to bring it to the Dallas 35-yard line.
On first down after the long completion, Turner gains three on a run. Then, Jacquizz Rodgers gained five yards on a short completion in the flat. On third-and-one, Julio Jones lined up at tailback and ran for the first down and eight yards.
First down-and-10 from the Cowboys 18, and Victor Butler sacked Ryan for a nine-yard loss. On the long second down, Michael Turner gained nine yards on the draw play. On third-and-10, Ryan went for White in the endzone, but missed to set up another field goal.
Opening from their own 20-yard line, Matt Ryan went deep to Julio Jones, but a pass interference call was made against Jones. On their own 10-yard line, Turner gained 10 yards to bring them back to the initial line of scrimmage.
On second-and-10 from their own 20, Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez for a four-yard gain to set up a third-and-six. Jacquizz Rodgers took the short third down pass 31 yards into Cowboys territory to extend the drive and give Atlanta another set of downs and the Cowboys to take their first timeout.
Turner took it another three yards on first down and forced the Cowboys to take their second timeout. On second-and-eight, Ryan threw it to Roddy White but the ball dropped incomplete. On third-and-eight, Roddy White got held by Orlando Scandrick to force a new set of downs.
With just 3:29 left on the clock, Jason Snelling took his first run five yards, and the Cowboys were forced to take their final timeout. On second-and-five, Ryan missed White deep on a pass. On third-and-five from the Cowboys 33, Ryan hit Jacquizz Rodgers for yet another first down and 11 yards.
On first down from the 22, Michael Turner took it five yards to bring the game into the final two minute warning. On second down, Turner took it one more yard to force the third-and-four from the Cowboys 16-yard line. On third down, Turner got another two yards to force a field goal with just 23 second left in the game.
Michael Turner started the first drive of the second half with no gain. Then on second down, Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones with an 18-yard strike over the middle. Turner tried bouncing a run outside but lost two yards.
On second-and-12 from the Falcons 30, Ryan made a bad pass while pressured that was incomplete to set up a long third down. For third-and-12, Ryan scrambled behind the line and hit Roddy White for 26 yards and another first down.
Ryan then hit Roddy White again at the 24-yard line of the Cowboys for another 20 yards. On the very next play, Ryan got sacked for a three yard loss. On second-and-13, Ryan had a bad throw to the slot to set up the long third down. On third-and-13 from the Cowboys 27, Ryan hit Jason Snelling for a three yard gain and set up another field goal attempt.
Starting from their own 19, Ryan hit White for another 15 yard gain right over the middle. Turner then followed it up with a seven yard run up the middle to set up a short second down. On second-and-two, Michael Turner busted it 43-yards and into the redzone for his longest run of the night. After Turner brought it to the 14, Jacquizz Rodgers gained another three yards to close the quarter out.
Starting the quarter out on a third-and-seven from the Dallas 29-yard line, Matt Ryan dumped it to Jason Snelling for a two yard gain and another field goal attempt.
Their second drive of the quarter started on their own 44-yard line. On the first play, Michael Turner gained eight to bring the ball across midfield. On second-and-two, Ryan got sacked by DeMarcus Ware and fumbled, but Roddy White recovered the ball at the line of scrimmage.
On third-and-two from the Dallas 48, Ryan hit the reliable Michael Palmer for a six-yard gain and the first down. On first, Ryan hit Julio Jones for a five yard gain for his third catch of the game before handing it to Turner on second for a two yard gain. Third-and-three from the Cowboys 36, and the Cowboys got too much pressure on Ryan and forced another fourth down to force another punt.
Starting at their own 12 with just over a minute left, Ryan hit Jacquizz Rodgers for a five-yard gain and then failed to hit Rodgers on second down. On third-and-five from their own 17-yard line, Ryan hit Roddy White for a first down and 20 yards.
From their own 37, Ryan scrambled for eight yards on first down. Then on second down, Ryan threw it to Tony Gonzalez for a pair of catches to bring it down to the 28-yard line for a tying field goal at the half.
Starting the game with a passing play, Lousaka Polite dropped an easy catch from Matt Ryan. Michael Turner takes the second down play for just a single yard. Harry Douglas looked like he was interfered with on a third down play, but the call wasn't made. Three-and-out on the first drive.
The second series started with a one-yard rush by Turner. On second, they spread the defense out and Ryan started up the no-huddle and then threw it away. There was a defensive penalty that forced an automatic first down to help the offense.
On the next first down, Michael Turner couldn't catch the ball and it popped to almost intercepted. On the second down play, Julio Jones went deep and Ryan hit him in stride for a 38-yard gain down to the Cowboys 36.
Right after that, Ryan hit Roddy White for another 10-yard gain. Turner finally gets into the action and gains three on first down. On second down, Anthony Spencer was off-sides, and the Falcons were given a second-and-two from the Cowboys 18-yard line where Turner gained just one yard.
On a third-and-one from the Cowboys 18, Jacquizz Rodgers got crushed in the backfield to set up a field goal for the offense. The offense needs to calm their nerves early in big games, or it could be a long season.
On the third drive, Ryan hit Julio Jones over the middle for a 20-yard quick hitter. Then Jacquizz Rodgers had a loss of a yard to start the next set of downs. Tony Gonzalez caught it out at the 50 on second down to set up a third-and-seven.
On third-and-seven from the 50, Ryan hit Roddy White for the first down catch and another 18 yards. Turner rumbled for a four-yard gain on the first play of the new set of downs. On second down, Ryan checked down to a Turner run to close the quarter out.
The defense allowed two field goals early. However, it locked down afterwards and allowed just one field goal attempt and one touchdown the rest of the game and never lost the lead. The Falcons were able to pressure Tony Romo.
The run defense turned in yet another good performance allowing just 3.61 yards per carry and forced the Cowboys to be one dimensional. Despite not getting a turnover today, the defense allowed the Cowboys to convert just three of their 10 third downs.
Starting their drive from their own 20-yard line, Tony Romo threw it too high on first down. On second down, Romo tried calling the inside draw, but Vance Walker and Stephen Nicholas forced a three-yard loss. On third-and-13, Romo threw it short of the first down and the Falcons forced a punt.
On the Cowboys second drive of the quarter, they started from their own 22-yard line. Romo hit Miles Austin on a sliding grab for 20 yards to start the drive off. On the second play, Romo rolled to the right and hit Felix Jones for six yards.
On second-and-four, Romo hit Jason Witten for seven yards, and then hit him again for another 10 yards. Romo hit Jones again for an underneath pass to the 20. On first-and-10 from the Falcons 20-yard line, Romo hit Kevin Ogletree for the touchdown pass.
On the final drive of the game, the Falcons allowed a seven yard completion to Witten underneath on the first play. For the second play, Romo hit Witten again for another 11 yards. On the first down play, Dent stopped Jones at the Cowboys own 40-yard line. The Falcons allowed Jones to gain 39 yards on the final play of the game, but won the game by not allowing him to score.
After starting the half at their own 14-yard line, Felix Jones had a 15-yard run. Then Jones followed it up with a draw play for six-yards. On a second-and-four from the Dallas 35, Lance Dunbar broke a run of 18 yards.
From the Falcons 47, Dallas pounds it with Jones again for another three yards. On second down, Asante Samuel created pressure through a corner blitz and Tony Romo made a terrible through. On third-and-seven from the Falcons 44, Tony Romo got sacked by Jonathan Babineaux for a nine yard loss and the defense forced a punt.
On the first play after the missed field goal, Stephen Nicholas stopped Lance Dunbar for a three-yard loss. Tony Romo hit Jason Witten for an eight-yard gain and followed it up with a weird flip to the fullback for the first down.
On first down, Romo hit Witten again for another three yards on the outside. For second-and-seven from the Cowboys 47, Nate Livings got a holding call to force a longer situation. On second-and-18, Romo hit Miles Austin for just five yards. On third-and-13 from the 41 yard line, Romo threw it too high to Miles Austin, and Austin dropped it to set up another punt.
On first-and-10 from the 19, Jonathan Babineaux stuffed Felix Jones for no gain. On second down, Miles Austin caught a Tony Romo strike for 10 yards and the first down. On the next first down, Lance Dunbar only gained two yards on the run.
For second-and-eight, Dez Bryant force an illegal contact penalty on Dunta Robinson before catching a 15 yard pass. After Jones gained another three yards on first down, he got another six rushing on second to set up a third-and-one.
On third-and-one, Thomas DeCoud had an interception on an errant Romo throw, but Dunta Robinson had a holding call to extend the Cowboys drive. Asante Samuel almost picked the ball off on the deep ball throw right after the penalty, and then William Moore split a pair of defenders to force a third down. Tony Romo had a poor pass on third down to force the 54-yard field goal which was missed.
Then, on first-and-10 from their own three, Felix Jones gained just one yard. For second down, Romo hit Jones on a short cross for the first down. Then, Romo followed it up with a five-yard pass to Jason Witten. That was followed by a four yard Dunbar run for third-and-one at the Dallas 23.
On third-and-one, Romo hit Miles Austin for a 17-yard gain and another new set of downs. First down from the 40, and Lance Dunbar gained just one yard. Then Romo hit Cole Beasley for an eight yard gain to set up another third-and-one situation at the two minute warning.
Next, on third-and-one from the Cowboys 49-yard line, Kroy Biermann penetrated through the line and stopped Phillip Tanner for the loss of a yard. On fourth-and-inches, the Cowboys tried to draw the defense offside and couldn't and were forced to punt.
Tony Romo started out with a quick route to Miles Austin for 9 yards. Then they pounded the ball with Felix Jones for three yards and the first down. On the next first down, Romo attacked a soft zone by Dunta Robinson to set up first-and-goal.
First-and-goal, Romo hit Austin for a quick four yard screen to set up second-and-goal from the six. Felix Jones got handed the ball on second down, but John Abraham and Jonathan Babineaux stopped him for a one-yard gain.
On third-and-goal, Romo was forced out of the pocket and missed the pass to force a field goal attempt. Forcing a field goal was the best the defense could have hoped for after starting the drive already in Dallas kicker Dan Bailey's range.
On the second drive, the Cowboys started out from the Falcons 27-yard line. However, Tyron Smith made a terrible mistake with a hands-to-the-face penalty for 10 yards. On first-and-20 from the 17, Romo was forced to throw the ball away.
Second-and-20, Romo made a bad throw from pressure, and Witten dropped the ball. On third-and-20 from the Cowboys 17, Romo threw it 65 yards to Kevin Ogletree after he beat Dunta Robinson to the Falcons 18-yard line.
On first down, Lance Dunbar got a four-yard run. However, the next two plays were forced incompletions for yet another field goal attempt by the Cowboys.
Despite two missed kicks by Matt Bryant and a long return by the Cowboys early in the game, they locked down just like the defense did. Bryant finally hit his kicks efficiently. Matt Bosher had a great game kicking off and punting. Rodgers and Franks were smart and effective as return men as well.
On the kickoff after Michael Turner's touchdown, Michael Bosher slammed it through the back of the endzone. Franks jumped on the line drive punt at the 19-yard line. On his fifth attempt of the night, Bryant hit it right down the middle from 36 yards out.
On his second kickoff of the quarter, Bosher kicked it deep, but there was an illegal block-in-the-back to give the Cowboys the ball at their 22-yard line. Jacquizz Rodgers took the Dan Bailey kickoff in the endzone and just took the touchback.
Matt Bryant hit a 32-yard field goal through the middle of the uprights with just 17 second left. Bosher skied the final kick through the endzone to give the Cowboys the ball at the 20-yard line.
On his second kickoff, Matt Bosher kicked it high and just a yard deep into the endzone. Chris Hope hit him at the 14 to force terrible field position for the Cowboys. Dominique Franks fair caught his second punt cleanly at the 14-yard line.
Matt Bryant missed his second field goal kick of the night. This time it was from 43 yards out, and he hooked it to the right. Dallas had a player go out of bounds on their second punt of the half and were forced to re-kick it. On the re-kick, Franks returned it for seven yards to the 19-yard line.
Matt Bryant hit a 45-yard attempt right down the middle. On the initial kickoff for the Falcons, they allow Lance Dunbar to just get back to the 19-yard line. Matt Bosher's second punt was downed at the three-yard line of the Cowboys to force terrible field position. Brian Moorman punted it to Dominique Franks who fair caught it cleanly at the 12-yard line.
On the initial kickoff, Dan Bailey gave it right to Jacquizz Rodgers who brought it out to the 21-yard line. The first punt was skied deep by Matt Bosher, but poor tackling gave them a 33-yard return to the 32-yard line.
On the second kickoff, Rodgers downed the ball deep in the endzone. Matt Bryant missed his first field goal attempt of the night from 37 yards out. On his second return, Rodgers brought it out to the 28-yard line after an efficient 25-yard return. However, this was just an uncharacteristically average quarter for the special teams units.
The game was well coached and called. However, execution just wasn't crisp tonight. The Cowboys were getting called for quite a few penalties. Coach Mike Smith was always making the right call when it came to whether to go for it as well as time management. However, Dallas still had a shot at the end of the game and the Falcons should have blown them out.
After being completely conservative all game, they pulled out all the stops in the fourth quarter. Julio Jones was a running back on some plays, and the defense was even blitzing more. The final drive for the Cowboys was just perfectly called prevent to end the game with them coming up short.
The defense looks like an adjustment was made at the half and the right plays were called to put pressure on Tony Romo and the offense. The offense came out with a much more aggressive gameplan and were pressing the ball down the field. The adjustments were made, but the players need to execute.
The defense has been well designed, but poorly executed all night. The offense has been more of the same from the first quarter. This is a defensive show down, and the Falcons are down by three because they just aren't making the plays. There will need to be some adjustments made at halftime.
On the first drive, the offense was calling the right plays, but could not execute. Special teams left something to be desired on the poor run back, but the defense locked up in the redzone to force the field goal.
Going to the no-huddle early in the second drive was brilliant, but the run at the end of the drive should have been a different call. The defensive second drive looked good outside of the one deep completion. Good blitzes and coverages were called but Robinson just got beat on the deep ball.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.