The Atlanta Falcons just keep winning.
The Falcons’ 19-13 victory over the Dallas Cowboys (3-5) on Sunday night marked the fifth time this season they’ve won a game by a touchdown or less. And they won with an automatic Matt Bryant uncharacteristically missing two field goals (he still drilled four of them). And with Matt Ryan failing to throw a touchdown pass for the first time since Week 2 of last season.
Michael Turner changed the game for the Falcons when he gashed the Cowboys for a 43-yard run with 1:29 remaining in the third quarter. Three plays later, Turner found the end zone from three yards out, breaking the 6-6 tie.
Turner ended the game with 102 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. At the end of the first half, Turner had just 18 yards on eight carries.
Although both teams combined for just 12 points at the end of the first half, they had little trouble moving the ball down the field. Neither team capitalized on their opportunities to punch the ball in the end zone. Atlanta had four red zone trips that resulted in a score only once; Dallas had two red zone trips but failed to score on either opportunity.
Ryan finished 24/34 for a season-high 342 yards. Both of his stud receivers went over the century mark: Roddy White had seven receptions for 118 yards (he also became the Falcons’ all-time reception leader), and Julio Jones had five receptions for a game-high 129 yards.
Running back Jacquizz Rodgers chipped in with four receptions for 58 yards including a huge 31-yarder in the fourth quarter. He eluded cornerback Orlando Scandrick to pick up the first down and more, allowing the Falcons to continue their 12-play, 66-yard drive that took over five minutes off the clock. Bryant’s 32-yard field goal gave the Falcons a 19-13 lead with just 21 seconds remaining.
On the other side of the field, Tony Romo went 25/35 for 324 yards and a touchdown. Surprisingly, he had zero turnovers, and the Falcons only sacked him once.
Miles Austin had seven receptions for 76 yards, and Dez Bryant was held to just one catch for 15 yards. Kevin Ogletree finished with three receptions for 96 yards and touchdown.
Linebacker DeMarcus Ware had one and a half sacks and forced a fumble on Ryan. Atlanta had no answer for the pass-rushing beast.
The Falcons managed to take a 16-6 lead in the fourth quarter before Romo led the Cowboys on six-play, 78-yard drive that lasted just 2:28 and was capped off by a 21-yard touchdown pass to Ogletree.
Jonathan Babineaux led the Falcons defense with seven tackles and a sack. Akeem Dent also played well, notching seven tackles. As a whole, the group did well with leader Sean Weatherspoon being out with a low ankle sprain.
Will the naysayers finally admit the Falcons are an elite team? Probably not, but they’re going to keep picking the next team on the schedule to defeat the Falcons until it finally happens.
Next Sunday, the Falcons travel to New Orleans to face the Saints in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.